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About Literature / Hobbyist Alexandria FranceticFemale/United States Recent Activity
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Arcadia Zero: Paradise Lost: Chapter Three
Chapter Three: The Author
    A couple days had passed since we took Yuki Kanna into custody. We interrogated her for hours on end, but we couldn`t get any real information about Arcadia out of her aside from a few tiny details. She really had been kept out of the loop. If that was the case, she wasn`t a very high-ranking agent exposed to the dark annals of the rogue nationalist organization, like Juri Hakodate.
She was probably just a pawn they chose to do their dirty work. In that sense, she was a expendable, disposable tool that they would have no qualms about terminating if need be. And everyone knew that termination for an Arcadia operative meant death, most likely by a much stronger and more powerful Esper.
    As for Yuki`s mother, we took her someplace where the department believed she would be out of Arcadia`s reach. Rintarou still seemed upset about the whole situation with Yuki and his long-deceased sister. I didn`t blame him. He had spent years building
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Arcadia Zero: Paradise Lost: Chapter Two
Chapter Two: Eyes of Glass
    The next day, Rintarou, Hanako, and I scanned through the Houston Esper Database, searching for the true identity of Juri Hakodate. Takumi had college classes to attend that day, so for now, it was just the three of us investigating the case. Whether Juri`s actions were justified or not, she did kill a man, and as enforcers of the law, it was our duty to capture her and bring her to justice, even if she was one of our own kind.
    Espers were treated much differently in crimes than humans. Sure, they still got trial by jury, innocent until proven guilty, and all the other legal rights granted by the United States Constitution, but when it came to capture and punishment, things were radically different. Espers didn`t go to prison like humans did, which made perfect sense because if someone like Rintarou were to go to prison, you`d have a major riot in approximately five seconds.
    Instead, criminal Espers were sent to the E
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Arcadia Zero: Paradise Lost: Chapter One
Arcadia Zero: Paradise Lost
By Alexandria Francetic
The Sequel of Arcadia Zero
Chapter One: The Monochrome City
    It was happening again. I had seen this place before. I stood in the center of a white-walled hallway, the icy tile floor beneath my bare feet. Locks of wavy, chestnut-brown hair tumbled over my shoulders, while I was clad in a plain, yet elegant white gown. My green eyes flashed, gaining a hint of red for a split-second. The bloody color quickly faded, but that fraction of a second told me all I needed to know. I was not alone here. An Esper`s aura was in this place.
    Cockroaches skittered past me as I walked foward, the dim, reddish lights above flickering with every step. My feet were soundless across the floor. Silence bombarded me. The only thing I could hear was the sound of my own diligent breathing. I headed to a single door at the end of the corridor. Without thought, I opened it. A room painted entirely in red spread before me, and someone
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Arcadia Zero: Chapter Three
Chapter Three: Pisces and Aquarius
    The next morning, I busily worked at my computer, my fingers tapping away on the keyboard as I typed up emails and filled out police reports. The memory of last night`s skirmish with Isaiah Akane was still fresh and burning in my mind. I sipped my coffee, trying to distract myself from it. Isaiah got away, and now God only knew where he was. Who was he? Why was he doing all this? Was he really tied to Arcadia? I didn`t know, and I had spent most of the night wracking my brain to try to figure it out. No luck.
    As per usual, I yawned loudly, dark bags hanging beneath my eyes. I hung my head, seconds away from dozing off at my desk. Then, my drifting was shattered by a familiar, bellowing shout.
And no, for once, it wasn`t Rintarou. Detective Jarvis`s voice echoed down the hall. "CHIIIZUUURRUUUU!"
    Of course, his roaring sent me running to his office as fast as I could. I ran inside and jumped into the chair in fr
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Arcadia Zero: Chapter Two
Chapter Two: Arcadia Rising
    A woman stepped out onto the rooftop, where she intended to meet her partner. But her partner...wasn`t what you would expect. She and this man were not friends or lovers. They were not partners in life. Rather, they were partners in death. A tall, slim man clad in a flowing black trenchcoat arrived to greet her. Faux fur lined the ends of his coat. He had glossy, pitch-black hair, black as the night, and his eyes were the color of seafoam. They almost seemed to glow in the city`s pseudo-darkness.
    The woman blushed upon meeting him. While the two had met online, and she had no clue what he looked like, she certainly didn`t expect him to appear so...bewitching. " must be Isaiah," she stuttered. The raven-haired man spoke in a nearly angelic voice. "Yes, indeed I am. Greetings, Nakura-chan. I am Isaiah Akane. So, you`ve decided? Are you certain you wish to die...alongside me?"
    Nakura nodded slowly. "Yes. I hate
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Arcadia Zero: Chapter One
Arcadia Zero
By Alexandria Francetic
Chapter One: Elfen Song
"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the species that is the most adaptable to change."
-Charles Darwin
    Today began just like any other. I woke up late, jumped into my uniform, shoved a piece of toast into my mouth, then went running off to check in at the Harris County Police Department, so I could begin my patrol shift for the day. Well, before I get into all that, I should probably introduce myself. My name is Chizuru Mashiro, I`m 21 years old, and I`m a rookie policewoman in the city of Houston.
    I graduated from the Police Academy about a year ago, and since then, my job mainly consisted of writing parking tickets, giving directions, helping old ladies cross the street, and all the other boring, menial tasks of the community that the rest of the force considered themselves too important to handle. So they saddled me with it all. But in the end,
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Binary Star: Chapter Three
Chapter Three: Aquaintance
    The next morning, I woke up freezing. I slowly peeled open my eyes and was assaulted by the harsh rays of the morning sun shining in through the window. I had managed to survive the night and make it to my first day on Earth. Seeing the morning sun for the first time since I was a little girl brought tears to my eyes. The bright, warm light, the pure blue made me want to break down and cry.
    Despite the warm sun outside the window, I was nearly freezing to death inside Jinnai Kobayashi`s domain. Speaking of which, the black-haired human was lying right below me, fast asleep.
How was he not so cold? I stripped off my nightgown and suited up in my uniform to get ready for the day. I didn`t know what was ahead of me today, but since I didn`t have any specific goals to accomplish at the moment, I figured I would just let come what may. My mission was more a cultural one than a scientific one, so it wasn`t like I needed to ventu
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Binary Star: Chapter Two
Chapter Two: Encounter
    When I opened my eyes, it took a few moments and a lot of blinking before my blurry vision finally clicked back into clarity. All of my senses were bombarded at once. For the first time in years, I stood on real, solid ground. Granted, it was more of a thick, stony gray mixture, but it was the surface of a planet nonetheless. I looked up. The darkness of the night sky dominated the heavens, and with the splay of stars dimly illuminating the firmament, it didn`t look much different than looking outside the windows of the S.S. Lillium, save for a few stray clouds here and there.
    Despite the S.S. Lillium being in Earth`s orbit, I couldn`t see it at all. All I could see were stars and clouds. I couldn`t remember the last time I had looked up and actually seen the real sky, nighttime or otherwise. I took a few short, diligent breaths, sucking in the alien air. I could breathe just fine, but it reeked of industrial chemicals. The first breat
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Binary Star: Chapter One
Binary Star
By Alexandria Francetic
Chapter One: Initiation
    "Spica, you have to go!" Mother`s desperate screams rang in my ears as I clawed out to her and Father. I wanted to touch them, but they were just barely out of my reach. The escorters had me locked in their clutches, trying to drag me onboard the S.S. Lillium. I squirmed and thrashed to no avail. "But I don`t wanna go! I wanna stay with you and Father!"
    Father reached foward and gently stroked my cheek. His eyes were red-rimmed and bloodshot. He forced an awful, despairing smile. "Spica, listen to me. You have to go on the ship. You have to escape. There isn`t enough room for your mother and I. You can`t see us anymore. From now on, you need to learn to live on your own. I want you to help Berenice, and I want you to protect and watch over little Chi, understand?" I sniffled hard, biting my lip until it bled. "But...Father..."
    "No buts," Mother said. She narrowed her eyes as if to appe
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I've just started a new Discord server! Minako's Playhouse is a server for all things macrophilic and vorish. There are several channels for discussion on topics of all kinds, including writing, anime, video games, and much more. There are also channels to post artwork, literature, music, and basically anything else you can think of. I created this server because I wanted size-loving people of all kinds to have a safe and friendly space to come together and have fun chatting, posting artwork and writing, roleplaying, and discussing their preferences without fear of being judged for it. Judging/shaming of other people's preferences, as well as rude, harassing, and passive-aggressive behavior will NOT be tolerated. Above all, be civil, be friendly, and have fun! If you're interested, come on in and take a look around!

Chapter Three: The Author

    A couple days had passed since we took Yuki Kanna into custody. We interrogated her for hours on end, but we couldn`t get any real information about Arcadia out of her aside from a few tiny details. She really had been kept out of the loop. If that was the case, she wasn`t a very high-ranking agent exposed to the dark annals of the rogue nationalist organization, like Juri Hakodate.
She was probably just a pawn they chose to do their dirty work. In that sense, she was a expendable, disposable tool that they would have no qualms about terminating if need be. And everyone knew that termination for an Arcadia operative meant death, most likely by a much stronger and more powerful Esper.

    As for Yuki`s mother, we took her someplace where the department believed she would be out of Arcadia`s reach. Rintarou still seemed upset about the whole situation with Yuki and his long-deceased sister. I didn`t blame him. He had spent years building up those walls around his subconscious, to keep those memories locked in the past where they belonged, but all of those walls had been shattered in just one fateful day. I wanted to learn more, but at the same time, I knew Rintarou was sensitive about it, so I opted to keep my mouth shut for his sake and my own. The last thing I wanted was to get squashed under a stray lamppost.

    Anyway, Rintarou and I had been out on patrol all day long, and by the time lunch came around, we were both good and hungry, so we decided to stop by the Broken Heroes Cafe for a bite to eat. I also hadn`t seen Charlie, my old mentor and guardian in a while, so I figured dropping by to say hello wouldn`t hurt. On the way there, we came across a rather sizeable crowd protesting by a church. They held up crudely-made signs and shouted indiscernible chants.

    "Another anti-Esper protest," I commented. "They seem to be happening all the time these days. But on a church lawn? Isn`t there some law against that? I mean, I`m not really religious or anything, but that just seems wrong." Rintarou shrugged. "Well, after the whole eclipse fiasco almost put us in civil war, I guess I can`t blame the humans for being afraid of us, but it ain`t like protesting is gonna do anything about it. This is our city too. We have just as much of a right to live here as they do."

    Clearly some of the protesters recognized us, because they started pointing dagger-like fingers and yelling at us. "You monsters! You`re nothing but devil spawns! Get out of our city! Leave us alone! Go away, you red-eyed beasts!" They began throwing sticks and rocks at us as if we were candidates for stoning. Most of them missed us, but I swatted away the rest with my PK. I tried my best to keep my cool and ignore them. Beating up on civilians wasn`t going to leave a good impression on my record.

    One of the protesters hurled a sign at me, and Rintarou snapped. He lunged in front of me and clutched the flying sign between two fingers. He broke it in half in a single squeeze. His red eyes shined with burning anger. The crowd fell silent. He glared at the angry civilians and snarled, "If you do anything like that to her again...I`m gonna kill you. We clear?" They got the message. The protesters dispersed pretty quickly after that.

    Thankfully, the rest of the route was a drama-free straight shot to the cafe. The bells hanging from the door jangled as we sauntered inside. We took our seats at the counter, and Charlie emerged from the kitchen carrying plates of food. I immediately began drooling. "Oh, hey there!" Charlie cheered. His green eyes gleamed from behind his thick-rimmed black glasses as he gave us a warm smile. "It`s Chizuru and Rintarou! Nice to see you again! So, what can I get for you kids today?"

    I chuckled. Calling me a kid was something he`d probably never stop doing, even when I was an old lady. "Hi, Charlie. I`ll have blueberry pancakes." Rintarou looked less than thrilled, as usual. "I`ll take the chicken and waffles. I`m starving." Let`s face it, it had been more of an 'eat breakfast for lunch' kind of day anyway. The bearded redhead`s grin grew even wider. "Alrighty then, coming right up!"

    As he strolled back into the kitchen, I glanced up at the TV mounted on the wall in the corner. It was switched to the news, something about a major prison riot that had taken place outside of town. Someplace called Huntsville Unit, or Texas State Penitentiary. Rintarou took a swing of whiskey from his flask and peered upward. "Huntsville Unit? Isn`t that that big-ass supermax prison out there in the East Texas backwoods?" I nodded slowly. "Yeah, that`s the place...wait, isn`t that where Nigel Jones was taken after he got arrested? I wonder if he`s okay." Rintarou shrugged. "Guess so. I don`t really remember. I`m sure he`s fine. Knowing him, that bastard probably started the prison riot."

    After Isaiah Akane was killed, Nigel Jones, the ultimate anti-Esper warrior and the man who had helped us defeat Arcadia the first time, was captured by police and convicted for all of the crimes he had committed, including multiple murder charges, possession of illegal weapons, and several other major felonies. He wasn`t getting out for a long time, let`s just say that. He didn`t even seem that upset about being arrested. He didn`t try to fight back or anything, he just let the cops haul him off to prison. Maybe he figured he had finished his job and it was time for him to face the punishment for his crimes. I couldn`t imagine someone like him having that kind of mindset, but it wasn`t impossible.

    Charlie finally arrived with our food, and believe me, we started chowing down as soon as it was within arm`s reach. As if he could read our minds, he glanced up at the TV and said, "Yeah, it`s really too bad about Nigel. If he had made some better choices in life, he wouldn`t be in that hellhole right now. Prison`s a place you don`t want to be, let me tell you. And Takumi, who in God`s name said it was YOUR lunch break?"

    I glanced to the side, and sure enough, Takumi Tanaka was sipping a milkshake and reading one of Erika Levette`s latest novels. His nerdiness astonished me sometimes. "I switched shifts early," Takumi replied. "I just wanted a chance to read Erika Levette`s newest novel, that`s all." Charlie sighed, shaking his head. "Kids these days. Can`t live with `em, can`t...oh, never mind. Speaking of which, did ya know that author girl`s in town today? She`s got a book signing at the mall, I`ve heard."

    Takumi`s golden eyes lit up like fireworks on the 4th of July. "Whaaat?! Are you kidding me!? Why didn`t you say something earlier?! Where is it!? When is it?! I`ve wanted to meet Erika Levette my whole life, she`s my favorite author ever! I even placed a preorder on her new Princess of Genesis figure!" He spun around in his chair to face me. "Hey, Chizuru, you like Erika Levette too, right? Why don`t we go to her book signing together? I`ll even pay for both autographs! What do you say?"

    I started blushing. I found myself at a loss for words. How could I begin embracing my inner fangirl right now? "Uhhh...I don`t know, I`m still on duty today..."

    I heard the door fly open hard. The bells clanged loudly. Rapid footsteps shuffled across the floor, and I heard pained gasping. Someone rushed up next to us, a girl with shoulder-length blonde hair and sky-blue eyes. She must have been in her early 20`s, and she looked rather average in height and build for her age. She was wearing a puffy wine-red, lolita-style dress with the frilled ends of a petticoat sticking out from under the hem. The girl panted heavily, barely able to catch her breath. The expression on her face showed numbing fear. "Are...are you the police? Please...I really need your help."

    "We`re with Houston PD. Are you alright?" I asked. "What`s wrong, miss? What`s your name? How old are you?" The young woman finally seemed to regain her composure, if only for a moment. "I`m 21 years old...and my name is...Erika Levette." A rush of breath escaped escaped me when I heard that. I think my heart almost stopped beating. That was nothing compared to Takumi. He was about to have a heart attack. "Wha...WHAT?! You`re her!? You`re THE Erika Levette?!"

    He jumped from his chair and rushed over to the woman, touching her blonde hair and pulling at her dress. " really is you! I can`t believe it!" He threw his arms around her and lifted her into the air, squeezing her with a grip comparable to that of a python. Although Takumi wasn`t particularly tall or imposing, he was still taller than Erika, and it looked like he was hurting her. "Takumi, stop it!" I shouted. "You`re crushing the poor girl to death! Can`t you see she`s scared?!"

    The blue-haired Esper placed Erika back on her feet and said, "Hey, do you remember me? I sent you a bunch of fan letters last month! I really love your work, you`ve been such an inspiration to me!" Erika Levette looked at him, sizing him up for a moment. "Uhhh...are you Takumi Tanaka? Oh, wait. You`re THAT guy. Look, I appreciate fanmail and stuff, and I`m glad you like my work so much, but you`re going way overboard. Like, almost on a stalker level."

    Takumi`s jaw dropped. He looked like he`d just been slapped with a frying pan. "Th...that guy?! I`m your biggest fan, and that`s what you think of me!? I`m not a stalker, I swear! Please don`t let these guys arrest me!" Erika threw her hands up in surrender. "Look, don`t take this the wrong way, but I was just a little weirded out, that`s all! I mean, I`ve never seen someone so wound up about my work before. I just wasn`t expecting it, you know?" Charlie snickered from behind the counter. "Yup, we all know ya don`t wanna be THAT guy."

    "Shut up!" Takumi hissed. He turned back to Erika. "I`m sorry, I shouldn`t have done that, I was being a real dick, just please give me another chance to prove I`m not a perverted stalker!" Ms. Levette stared at him. "Umm...I guess so...listen, I`ll make it up to you. But that`s not why I came here. I`m in some really big trouble. Someone`s after me...I think they`re trying to kill me."

    "Who`s after you?" Rintarou asked. "Is it one of your psycho fanboys? Don`t worry, I`ll kill him for you." Erika shook her head. "N-no, that`s not it. You know, my books are mainly written for girls, but I seem to have a lot of male fans for some reason. That wasn`t the case here, though. This guy wasn`t a fan...he was an assassin. I was signing books at the mall, and all of a sudden, some crazy guy ran out of nowhere and started shooting lightning bolts out of his hands. He was chasing after me, trying to fry me. His eyes were glowing red, like a demon`s. I think he Esper."

    "An Esper?" I said. "If he was shooting lightning at you, that means he must have been an electrokinetic. They can draw electric energy from the air and other sources of electricity around them to create electric attacks from their own bodies. Electrokinetics are very dangerous Espers. You were right to come to us, Ms. Levette."

    Suddenly, the lights began flickering. After a minute of wild flashing, the electricity went dead. The entire restaurant blacked out. Everyone was silent. No one moved a muscle. Erika panicked and latched onto Rintarou`s waist. "Oh, my God, it`s him. How did he even find me? He`s going to kill me! Please, you have to do something!"

    Charlie stepped out from behind the counter and extracted a silenced pistol from his waistband. I didn`t think he carried a gun since he quit the force. He cocked back the slide with a click. "It`s okay, Ms. Levette. We`re not going to let anyone hurt you. Let`s go face this bastard."

    Rintarou, Takumi, Charlie, Erika, and I carefully stepped outside into the parking lot. It was quiet. A little too quiet. Then, a crack of thunder split the skies. A harrowing cackle filled our ears. The ground trembled as a blackish figure soared out of nowhere, crashing down onto the concrete. It even left a crater behind. It stood up, revealing the assailant`s true face.

    He was a thin, gaunt, sickly young man with slender limbs and skin even paler than Yuki Kanna`s. He was dressed in a strange white suit with an identification number on the shoulder, like some lab experiment. There was a name on it. Akira Kamijou. I quickly noticed the white suit was stained by splatters and streaks of red. He had wispy white hair and glaring, cat-like yellow eyes. He broke into a sadistic grin, revealing pointed teeth. "There you are, little kitten. Why don`t you come out? I`m not gonna hurt you...I`m just gonna eat you instead!"

    He surged foward, his body cloaked in veins of electricity. Instinct commanded me to react. My eyes flared blood-red. I swung my arm, unleashing a razor-sharp blade of PK. Akira Kamijou stopped in his tracks as a massive, bloody gash sliced across his body, as if he`d been slashed by an invisible sword. He hunched over, clutching his wound. "So...all you freaks are Espers too? Sorry, but I ain`t here for you. I`m here for the little bitch shivering and hiding behind you! So stay the hell out of my way!"

    He jabbed out his palms and released crackling bolts of electricity from his fingertips. We ducked and rolled out of its path just in time, as the white-hot electricity shattered a cafe window. Charlie was visibly upset by that. He aimed his silenced weapon right at Akira`s forehead. "Hey, just who do you think you are, breaking other people`s property, huh? You`re gonna pay for that, ya know!" He pulled the trigger, firing half a dozen suppressed rounds at the psychotic white-haired Esper.

    Only two rounds hit their mark, while the rest flew out of sight as Akira zipped away at blinding speed. He left a trail of blood behind as two puckered red holes sat in his stomach, but he was far from dying. In fact, being shot only seemed to aggravate him even more. "You think I give a damn about your restaurant, old man?! I`m gonna rip your guts out, just like I did to those idiots at the Esper Research Institute!" He shot a glare to Erika Levette. "Come here, little kitty."

    "Screw you!" Erika shouted. She didn`t look it, but she could be pretty angry when she needed to. Takumi stepped in front of the young woman, staring down the electrokinetic Esper. "You better leave her alone," he growled. "If you do as much as lay a finger on Ms. Levette, I`ll drown you in the depths of the sewers!" Akira Kamijou tilted his head, appearing genuinely confused. That confused expression quickly turned into an insane, cracked grin. "What, you think you`re her bodyguard or something? What a joke! I don`t care if you`re an Esper, you`re a damn wimp!" He raised his arms into the air, and sparking volts coursed over his skin.

    In retaliation, Takumi whipped out a pair of containers from his blazer jacket and splashed water into open air. The falling water droplets froze in midair as his eyes turned red, clumping together to form a colossal tidal wave. "Bad idea, sucker!" Akira cackled. "Last time I remember, water and electricity don`t mix! I`m gonna fry you `till you`re char-broiled, sissy boy!"
With a clap of his hands, he released a surge of roaring electricity.

    Even at a disadvantage, Takumi wasn`t backing down. He jabbed out his palms and made the tidal wave rigid, like a watery wall. Takumi put his arm up, pushing Erika behind him. "Stay back. I don`t want you to get hurt." This was a side of Takumi I had never seen before. He acted like an entirely different person. Maybe it was because he was trying to protect his idol. Akira`s electric attack collided with the water wall, resulting in a colossal explosion that shattered the barrier and evaporated most of the water into steam. Takumi was hit by the electricity and flung into a wall.

    Erika rushed to his side, shaking his shoulder. "Tanaka! Are you okay?! Please, wake up!" His golden eyes slowly opened. "Don`t...don`t worry about me...I`m fine." Akira hunched over and burst into manic laughter. "Oh, is she your girlfriend now? You`re pathetic!" His hands bathed in crackling electric energy, he lunged out at Erika and Takumi, but Rintarou intervened just in time. He launched himself at Akira, tackling him to the ground.

    Meanwhile, Takumi staggered to his feet and gathered up the remnants of water puddles on the ground, closing them around Ms. Levette to entrap her in a bubble-like sphere. I wanted to scream at first, thinking it was filled with water, but I quickly calmed down once I realized it was hollow inside. "Hey, what is this?" Erika said, panicking and scratching at the liquid walls of her prison. "Let me out of here!"

    "It`s okay, Ms. Levette," I explained. "This is part of Takumi`s ability, he won`t hurt you." While I spent my time trying to calm down the frightened author, Rintarou was pounding Akira into the ground. He grabbed the skinny young man by his collar and slammed him into the concrete, leaving a huge crater behind. "What the hell do you think you`re doing?!" Rintarou roared. "HUH!?"
He punched him over and over again, beating him until his face was bloody. The blonde brute thrashed him around like a ragdoll, smashing him back and forth. His eyes burned with the intense color of red-hot rage. If you didn`t know the real situation, it was a frightening thing to witness.

    Finally, Rintarou ended his rampage. He held out Akira by his collar and dropped him. The white-haired Esper fell to the ground with a limp thud. "That`s what you get for annoying me," Rintarou grumbled. "If you don`t wanna get pounded into dust, then don`t piss me off. And don`t go around trying to kill my friends, either. Under normal circumstances, now`s when I`d just snap you in half and kill you, but I`d rather not get labeled as a murderer, so I`ll let you off with a warning this time."

    Unfortunately, it was a warning Akira Kamijou did not heed. He dragged himself to his knees, neck cracking as he looked up. "Damn...that hurt...they don`t call you a monster for nothing."
He staggered to his feet. "But my mistress gave me a very important mission, and I`m not about to disappoint her!" He spun around to face Rintarou. The blonde growled and drew back his fist. "Stupid punk. You don`t learn your lesson, do you-"

    Just as Rintarou followed through on the punch, Akira loosed a roaring lightning strike that launched his opponent back a good ten feet. Electric veins zipped off of his legs and jumped onto the concrete, spreading out like a complex root system. It trapped us inside. "This is bad," Charlie said. "This is really bad. If he draws on the electricity in the air and unleashes all his power, he could black out this entire city and kill us all."

    He aimed his suppressed pistol at the electrified Esper, but before he could pull the trigger, Akira flung out an electric string to shock the bearded redhead and knock the gun from his hands. "Shit!" Charlie snapped. We were trapped within a crackling web of electricity, unable to escape. My skin prickled and tingled. Every hair on my body stood on end. Stray strands of my brown hair stood up and fluttered about due to the sheer amount of static.

    Akira Kamijou`s wicked cackles rang through the air. "You`re all gonna die! I`m gonna kill you all! You`re going to fry from the inside-out! All except for the precious little writer girl. I`ll take care of her myself. Just getting zapped and dying is too good for her. I`m going to do it nice...and slow...and painfully."

    "Shut up!" Takumi hissed. "I won`t let you do anything to her!" He jumped foward, stepping over one of the electric roots. "Takumi, don`t!" I shouted. Unsurprisingly, he was zapped and sent sprawling backwards. "Give me a break," Akira said. "What are you gonna do, waterboy? You can`t even come close to me!" The electricity intensified, loudly humming and crackling. "Oh, God no," Erika sobbed. "I don`t want to die like this!"

    My blind panic suddenly turned into a numbing anger. I don`t know why I hadn`t attacked harder before. If I had, we wouldn`t be in this situation now. Actually, scratch that. I do know why.
It was because I was afraid. I had been so traumatized by the events of last year that I didn`t want to use my power to hurt anyone again. But now, this situation demanded my action. It didn`t matter how scared I was of hurting people, if I didn`t act soon, we were all going to die, and that`s all there was to it.

    My fury took over. That old feeling I got when I fought Isaiah Akane returned. "Stop it...STOP IT!" My red eyes flashed, and my primal instinct reared its ugly head. For the first time in a long time, I unleashed my vectors on offense- with destructive force. Invisible blades of PK cut through the air, slicing through the electric web. I lobbed off Akira`s left arm, severing it from the shoulder.

    Jets of blood sprayed out onto the street, and Akira let out a soul-shaking scream. "MY...MY ARM! YOU BITCH!" I wasn`t finished yet. I was not playing around. I gave him no chance to retaliate. I wrapped my PK around him and lifted him into the air, slamming him down into the pavement once before raising him back up. I stared into his yellow eyes with a hollow, merciless gaze. I did not feel like the same person. Even my voice sounded different. "You like hurting other people? You think it`s fun? Well, how does it feel now that you`re the one being hurt?"

    He spit at me. "You...bitch. I...I`ll kill you!" I answered by ripping off his other arm. Blood splattered onto the ground, and he screamed in agony. "Well?" I asked. "Does it hurt now? Are you suffering enough yet?" Akira just roared at me, thrashing about in midair like a rat struggling to escape a mousetrap. I scowled. "You`re pathetic. And you dare to call yourself an Esper?
Time to put you out of your misery."

    I opened my palm and sent forth a devastating telekinetic blast that punched directly through his chest, shredding his insides. His chest cavity was blasted open with an unsettling crack.
It looked like he`d taken a round of buckshot straight to the heart. The impact killed him instantly. I dropped his mutilated corpse. He fell to the ground with a hollow thump, crashing face-first into a pool of his own blood. Charlie, Rintarou, Takumi, and Erika looked on in horror. I took in the gruesome spectacle one last time, and then...everything just unplugged.

    I snapped out of my trance. I collapsed to my knees. My muscles felt like gelatin. Tears streamed down my face. I shook my head, my brain in utter denial mode. " didn`t just do that...did I?" Charlie glanced down at me, wearing an indescribable expression. It was a mix of horror, disgust, and pure shock. I had never seen him look at me like that before. "T-those eyes...those were made to kill."

    I couldn`t take any more. I had exerted myself far harder than my body could handle. I felt sick to my stomach. As I stared at Akira`s shredded corpse, I hunched over and vomited, throwing up on the pavement. Exhausted beyond belief, I crashed down on my side. My eyes rolled back into my head as the others gathered around me, rushing to my aid. My eyelids slowly sealed shut.
My consciousness swam away, and the world went black.
Arcadia Zero: Paradise Lost: Chapter Three
The Sequel of Arcadia Zero. Six months after the chaos that wracked the city of Houston, Chizuru Mashiro and her friends thought their lives had returned to normal, but things are about to get even weirder, as a string of bizarre Esper-related murders crop up, hailing the resurrection of Arcadia. As Chizuru and her cohorts struggle to unravel the mystery, an enigmatic young girl appears before them, declaring herself as the mother of the Espers. As the tensions between humans and Espers rise to their breaking point, the true nature and origin of the Espers is revealed, and the curtain rises on a final showdown that may very well destroy all Espers and humans alike.


Chapter Two: Eyes of Glass

    The next day, Rintarou, Hanako, and I scanned through the Houston Esper Database, searching for the true identity of Juri Hakodate. Takumi had college classes to attend that day, so for now, it was just the three of us investigating the case. Whether Juri`s actions were justified or not, she did kill a man, and as enforcers of the law, it was our duty to capture her and bring her to justice, even if she was one of our own kind.

    Espers were treated much differently in crimes than humans. Sure, they still got trial by jury, innocent until proven guilty, and all the other legal rights granted by the United States Constitution, but when it came to capture and punishment, things were radically different. Espers didn`t go to prison like humans did, which made perfect sense because if someone like Rintarou were to go to prison, you`d have a major riot in approximately five seconds.

    Instead, criminal Espers were sent to the Esper Research Institute, a quasi-government organization with questionable legality, where Espers essentially became guinea pigs in brutal experiments. Police were allowed to even kill an Esper without repercussions if they believed their lives were in danger. Simply put, the American justice system as it pertained to Espers was a very touchy subject.  

    I sat down at my desk and fired up the computer, pulling up the Esper Database. "So, let`s see who this Juri Hakodate actually is," I said, typing her name into the search bar. Her name came up with several results. I scrolled down, searching for any sign of her. When I reached the bottom of the page, I noticed her face. Her dull eyes and monotone, almost robotic expression stuck out like a sore thumb. "Juri Hakodate, 25 years old," I read. "Executive Secretary at Williams Companies...hey, isn`t that where Williams Tower is?"

    Hanako glanced over my shoulder. "Yes, it is. The tower was originally owned by Transco Energy, but the company merged with Williams back in 1995, so the tower`s name was changed. So Juri Hakodate works there?" I nodded. "Yeah. She`s got a pretty high-level position too, from what I can tell. It looks like the database is right about her vectors, too. Her ability is ferrokinesis, the power to manipulate and control metals with her mind. It`s not a super-rare ability, but it`s not very common either. Only a handful of Espers in the state have it."

    Rintarou pulled a stack of files from a shelf and slammed them down on the desk. The loud bang made me flinch. "Then she can`t be that different from you, right, Chizuru? I mean, she can make metal float and stuff, but her power`s limited to just controlling metallic objects. If Juri`s vectors are just an offshoot of yours, then she`s gotta be a lot weaker than you."

    "That isn`t necessarily true," Hanako piped up. "After our fight with Juri yesterday, I decided to do some research on how the vectors work. I`ve learned quite a bit. While Chizuru`s telekinesis and Juri`s ferrokinesis may seem like the same ability, they actually work quite differently from each other. You see, Chizuru`s telekinesis works by her pineal gland releasing high-frequency energy waves that can control the air around them according to what she wants to do. With these waves, she can compress air into sharp blades to cut things, create barriers or shockwaves to protect herself or blow enemies away, or even control the airflow around a certain object to negate the effects of gravity, which allows her to pick up and move things with the power of her mind."

    "Juri`s ability, on the other hand, works in another way. Her ferrokinesis releases electromagnetic waves from her pineal gland that attract metallic things to her. She`s a bit like a living magnet. She can even change the output of her magnetic field to control metal objects in whatever way she pleases. Not only that, but from the last time we fought her, she seemed to have metal appendages implanted inside her body. The only reason why she would do something like that would be if she wanted to use her powers as a weapon."

    I leaned back in my chair, twining my fingers around locks of wavy brown hair. "Hmmm...that is an interesting point. If she was just an average businesswoman, even as an Esper, she wouldn`t need to do something like that. Even if you try to justify it as a self-defense attempt, putting metal implants in your body in order to constantly have metal on hand to control seems a bit excessive. I don`t know any doctors who would do something like that. That means she must have paid some underground doctor a lot of money to do it. And the way she talked about purifying the sounded a lot like what Isaiah Akane and his subordinates spewed all the time. She could be a copycat criminal influenced by Arcadia`s propaganda, but I just don`t think so. I have a strange feeling about it."

    Rintarou plopped down in an office chair next to me and began devouring a little sandwich he had packed in his lunch bag. There was no way that was going to be enough to satisfy his appetite. "Well, I don`t know about that," he said in a muffled tone, "but I looked through some of the old police reports to see if I could find anything related to Juri`s motive, and it just so happens that about a month ago, a report was filed for a stalking charge. Apparently the woman in question was being stalked by a strange man who constantly followed her around everywhere. He stood outside her apartment all night, he sent her creepy letters detailing everything she did that day, he posted her every move online, and he even threatened to kill her on more than one occasion."
    "The stalker was arrested and taken in for questioning, but there wasn`t enough evidence to convict, so they let him off with a restraining order. The woman who he stalked worked as a secretary for- get this- Williams Companies. My guess is that she told Juri about what was going on, so the lady decided to take matters into her own hands and stake the poor bastard to the wall."

    "Yeah, it all matches up," I replied. "The victim was identified as having a previous record for stalking, so it wasn`t like Juri was just killing out of pleasure, or to let off steam. She had the right guy. She told us the truth about her motive. This was a carefully planned, premeditated murder. Now, it`s all just a matter of finding out where she is. I figured the first step would be to call her workplace." I looked up the number for Williams Companies. I dialed and impatiently waited for a reply. A woman`s voice answered on the other end. "Hello, this is Willams Companies, how may I help you?"
    "Yes, this is Officer Chizuru Mashiro, from the Harris County Police Department," I replied. "I was wondering if I could speak to Ms. Juri Hakodate. Can you put her on the line?" There was a long silence on the other side. "Sorry, but Ms. Hakodate isn`t in today. She`s just taken a week-long vacation. Can I get you on the line with someone else?"

    "No, that`s fine," I said. "Thank you anyway. Goodbye." I hung up. A deep sigh escaped my lungs. "Well, that isn`t a good sign. Just a day after she becomes a murder suspect, she decides to go take a week off for vacation? Sounds pretty suspicious, if you ask me."

    "But how will we find her now?" Hanako asked. "She could be anywhere by this point." I hung my head. "I...I don`t know. But if she really is an agent of Arcadia, she`s bound to strike again. We need to keep an eye out. It`s all we can do right now."

    A fellow officer approached us. He looked like he`d just seen a ghost. "Umm...Officer Mashiro, Officer Natsuki...Detective Jarvis wants to see you. He says it`s urgent." Rintarou and I exchanged worried glances. We both let out a synchronized sigh.

    Not long after, Rintarou and I sat across from Detective Jarvis, bracing for the worst. I nervously scratched the nape of my neck and chuckled, "So, uhhh...I`m glad your wife`s feeling better!" He didn`t answer. That wasn`t good. My blonde partner, on the other hand, was far bolder than I was. "Alright, what is it now? Come on, spit it out, old man, we don`t got all day here."
    "There`s been another Esper murder," Jarvis replied. "Esper murder?" I repeated. "Aren`t you talking about what happened yesterday? We`re working on it as best as we can."

    "It`s not about that," Jarvis said flatly. "Last night, someone reported gunshots in the Industrial District, near the Houston Ship Channel. When we went to check it out, we found over a dozen people frozen to death. They were apparently importing illicit drugs and weapons into the country from South America. Part of the drug trade, pretty much. If it was a shooting, we could just explain it away as a gang war or something, but it ain`t every day that people die of exposure in 80-degree weather."

    "That`s not even all of it. The real kicker is, the victims didn`t freeze to death like a normal person would. They were flash-frozen, almost like they got dipped in liquid nitrogen. When we tried to perform an autopsy on some of the bodies, they shattered like glass. Ms. Suguwara`s going to take a look at them soon. Since you two seem to be...experts on this subject, maybe you could give us an explanation on what- or who- could possibly do something like that?"

    He handed us the crime scene photos and files. We started analyzing them. I didn`t mention that calling Rintarou and I 'experts' on this topic was a rather bold statement. Just because we were Espers didn`t mean we automatically knew everything about the abilities of our own kind. I wouldn`t really consider myself an expert either, and even if I did, who would I brag to about that? It`s not like this stuff has its own section of the Yellow Pages.

    Rintarou and I pored over the autopsy photos. The victims` arms and legs had been cleanly broken off, as if they were ceramic dolls that had been dropped. "Damn," the blonde said. "They look like my mother`s broken angel figurines. This is gotta be an Esper`s work. What do you think, Chizuru?"

    "Cryokinetic," I said slowly, as if no one was listening. "Whoever did this has the power to create and control ice. If you ask me, a cryokinetic did this. The energy waves released from their pineal gland slow down the water molecules in the air and clump them together, freezing them at the molecular level to create any kind of ice-based weapon they wish. In that way, this ability is somewhat derivative of Takumi`s aquakinesis. But unlike his PK, a cryokinetic doesn`t need to have a visible source of water to use their power. They can just create ice through water vapor. Since over half of the human body is made up of water, my guess is that our suspect used his or her PK to slow down the water molecules in the victims` bodies and freeze them from the inside-out."

    "Yeah, that`s interesting and all, but do we even have a suspect?" Rintarou piped up. "Because I sure as hell am not going on a wild goose chase." Jarvis interrupted, "Well, that`s just it.
We suspected an Esper might be the culprit from the beginning, and after some research, we came to an unlikely conclusion." He pushed foward a picture of a young woman with long, braided snow-white hair and orb-like purple eyes. Her skin was nearly as pale as ceramic.

    "This is Yuki Kanna," Jarvis explained. "She`s 20 years old, and she dropped out of college to take care of her critically ill mother. Seems like a nice girl, not the type to go around freezing drug dealers to death, but she`s the only known Esper in the city who wields cryokinesis. Because of that, she`s our only suspect. You don`t have to go all guns blazing or anything.
Just pay her a visit at her house and see what you can find out. I`ll send you the address on the way there."

    I gave him a sharp bow. "Thank you, Detective Jarvis. We`ll do our best." Rintarou stared at Yuki Kanna`s picture. "Is it...really her?" I blinked. "Do you know her?" He quickly shook his head. "No. She just...reminded me of someone, that`s all." He had an insecure, shaky tone in his voice, like he was trying to hide something.

    Rintarou and I arrived at the address Jarvis sent to us, a small, quaint little house that looked like it had been built well before World War II. I rang the doorbell and swallowed hard, expecting a wicked ice witch to jump out and freeze my face off. Thankfully, that wasn`t the case.

    A short, withered old woman answered the door. Her skin was pale and flushed, and her hands wouldn`t stop shaking. She looked like she was ready to drop dead at any moment. "Can you?" she asked, her voice small and weak. "Yes, I`m Officer Mashiro, and this is my partner, Officer Natsuki," I replied, indicating to the tall, intimidating blonde Esper. "We`re with Harris County PD, and we`re investigating a recent homicide."

    The old lady`s eyes widened. "Homicide? Oh, that`s dreadful, is there anything I can do to help?" I answered, "Actually, we were hoping we could speak with your daughter, Yuki Kanna. Is she home right now?" The decrepit woman shook her head. "No, I`m afraid not. She went out into town to pick up my medicine. My Yuki is such a wonderful girl, after my husband passed away and I got sick, she dropped out of school to help take care of me. Most other kids would just put someone like me in a nursing home. She really is such an angel."

    I watched the woman carefully, trying to read her expressions. Her feelings seemed genuine. Rintarou piped up, "Your daughter`s an Esper, Ms. Kanna. Do you know her ability? Does she seem like the kind of person who would use her vectors a lot?"

    "Oh, Yuki wouldn`t hurt a fly," the woman answered. "A lot of people are afraid of her because she has ice powers, but trust me, her heart is anything but cold. She`s my daughter, and I wouldn`t be afraid of her for any reason. I don`t think she would use her powers just because she felt like it. And about I know you, young man?" She took a few slow, weak steps toward him. He quickly backed up. ", not at all. I`ve never met you before, Ms. Kanna."

    She peered up at him, grinning. "You liar. I know you! You`re Rin-kun! My, I haven`t seen you in ages! You were such an adorable little boy, and now look at you! You`ve become such a strong, handsome young man! You`re a lucky girl, Officer Mashiro!" I stared at the two in confusion. "Uhhh...what`s going on? Rintarou, do you know this woman?" While the old lady drooled over my partner whilst admiring his fine body, he said, "Well, Ms. Kanna was once my neighbor. I`ve never told you before, but this is where I used to live. My house is right down the street, actually. Haven`t been back there in years..." His voice took on an apprehensive tone.

    "Does that mean you know Yuki Kanna?" I asked. Rintarou wrestled away from the old lady and snarled, "I don`t want to talk about it." I had never seen him upset like that before. He wasn`t angry in the way that would make him toss a vending machine across the street, but it was a deep, internal anger, bordering on sadness. It wasn`t like him to be so sensitive. "You know, Yuki should be coming back from the pharmacy soon," the old lady interrupted. "Maybe once she gets home, we can all have a long chat together. But now that you mention it, she has been gone for quite a while..."

    My eyes lit up, burning hot red. "She`s around here somewhere," I said. "Rintarou, we have to go, now!" I grabbed his wrist and started pulling him after my lead. We left Ms. Kanna behind and ran off into the urban sprawl. The closer we got to town, the more I could sense the Esper`s presence. We stopped in the middle of a somewhat crowded area. Rintarou and I scanned around, searching for any sign of the white-haired cryokinetic. "She`s over there!" Rintarou shouted, pointing into the distance. Out of the sea of people, her aura sang out, lighting a fire in my eyes. I caught a glimpse of the pale-skinned girl. Despite being told that she was off to get medicine for her mother, her hands were empty. She glanced over her shoulder, and once her eyes met ours, she took off.

    We gave chase, pursuing the Esper girl through the dense urban sprawl. "She knew we were coming after her," I said. "We have to be careful. If she`s an Arcadia agent, things could get violent. We have to protect the civilians at all costs." We caught up with Yuki Kanna, but she was disappearing in and out of the crowds. I could grab her with my vectors if I wanted to, but with all the civilians around, the risk of getting someone else hurt was too high.

    "We have to flush her out and corner her somehow," I said. "I can`t catch her with my PK here, it`s too dangerous." Rintarou gave me a nod of confirmation. "I`m on it." He split off from me and took an alternate path around the civilians. I followed him on the opposite side. If each of us could follow Yuki through alternate routes, hopefully we could lead her out from the crowd.
We soon came full circle, surrounding Yuki on both sides. Rintarou tore a park bench from the concrete and held it over his head, clearly intending to use it as a bludgeoning weapon if he had to.
    Yuki Kanna was cornered with nowhere to run. She panted heavily, sweat pouring down her face. The sweat beads crystallized on her skin. She shivered uncontrollably, not out of cold, but out of fear. It wasn`t too often that you saw an Arcadia operative afraid of anyone, let alone cops. "Stop right there!" I shouted. "Put your hands up and surrender now!" The white-haired Esper looked scared enough to pee herself. Her purple eyes, swollen with tears, gained a blood-red glow. "S-stay...stay away from me!" she screamed.

    She swung her forearm into the air and unleashed a howling blade of ice. I put up a psychic barrier, causing it to shatter on contact. I retaliated by releasing my invisible telekinetic arms in hopes of grabbing her, but she deflected just as fast, bringing up a snowflake-shaped ice shield to protect herself from my PK. Yuki sent a roaring blizzard my way. I ducked just in time to avoid being frozen solid. My skin bristled from the numbing cold. As I prepared my next plan of attack, a huge voice broke my concentration. "STOP IT, KANNA!"

    Rintarou Natsuki was charging at full speed, his fist drawn back. At his maximum strength, a punch like that could kill Yuki. I gasped so hard my lungs hurt. "Rintarou, STOP!" Even Yuki couldn`t react fast enough. She froze like a deer in headlights as Rintarou came surging at her like a speeding train. Expecting the worst, I unleashed my PK to stop or at least slow him down before he squashed the poor girl.

    But then...he stopped. And I hadn`t done it. A plume of dust erupted into the air as he skidded to a halt, his fist barely inches away from Yuki`s face. The blonde gazed at her, huffing and puffing like the Big Bad Wolf. " it really you?" Yuki`s answer was a horrified scream. She staggered back and fell on her rear end, quivering in his shadow. She then proceeded to prostrate herself before us. "Look, I`ll do whatever you want, just please, don`t kill me!"

    "Ms. Kanna, calm down," I said. "We`re not going to kill you. We just wanted to talk to you." I glanced up at Rintarou. He was clearly in shock, staring at his palm. "I almost...killed her..." I blinked. "Rintarou, what`s gotten into you? You know who Yuki is, don`t you?" He clenched his fists. "She...was a friend of my little sister...Nana." Yuki stared at him. "`re Nana`s brother...Rin-kun." Tears flooded her eyes. She threw her arms around Rintarou`s waist, hugging him tight. "Oh, I`m so sorry...I loved Nana so much...when I found out she died...I didn`t want to think it was real."

    "Don`t apologize," Rintarou said. "It`s not your fault. It`s mine. I didn`t protect her like I should have. I promised I`d never let anything happen to her...and I betrayed her." He pulled away from Yuki. "Nana and Yuki used to be best friends when they were kids. Nana knew all about Yuki`s cryokinesis, but she didn`t care. She loved her just like she loved me. When Nana was killed, my parents blamed me for it. I was the problem child in their eyes, they didn`t want me, they wanted her. I was so pissed back then. I was convinced my parents hated me, and we got into a huge fight. I moved out and joined the Police Academy not long after that. I`ve never talked to them since then."

    Yuki`s face fell. "It was partially my fault, too. I was so upset over what happened to Nana that I took it out on Rin-kun, and I...I attacked him. I tried to freeze him, but he stopped me before I could. Ever since that day, I`ve wanted to apologize for what I did...because it hurt me so much, I didn`t even think about Rin-kun`s feelings. Nana was his sister. He was the most hurt out of all of us."

    I didn`t know what to say. I was speechless, and nearly in tears myself. "I...I`m sorry. I didn`t think you two had such a past together. I mean, I know what happened to Nana, but..." Rintarou patted my shoulder. "Don`t worry about it. It`s not yours to be responsible for. You don`t need to pity me for anything. It`s something I have to deal with myself. And while this is all still a pretty big system shock to me, we still have a reason for being here, and it`s not about dredging up ancient history. That can wait for another day. We`ve got bigger problems right now."

    I turned to Yuki and said, "Your mother told us you were going out to get her medicine, but from what I can see, you don`t have anything. What were you doing? Why did you run away from us?" Yuki shrunk back, growing skittish. I tensed up, readying myself in case she tried to take off again. "I...I was scared," Yuki sniffled. "You see...I was the one who killed those people. I heard about what I did to those drug dealers on the news, and when I found out the police were looking for me, I was afraid. I wanted to hide, but I had to keep going`s what they told me."

    "They?" I asked. "You mean Arcadia?" She nodded. "Yes. Arcadia isn`t disbanded, they just went into hiding after the eclipse incident six months ago. They became more clandestine with their operations after that. They want us to kill criminals to stir up fear that if the people don`t follow the rules, they might be next. I don`t know much about it, but they`re trying to weaken the people and destroy their faith in not only the police and the government, but society as a whole. It`s all part of creating their new world order. I think they`re trying to revive something...something dangerous."

    I took in her words with a concerned mind. It made sense. After the eclipse madness nearly sent the country into civil war, everyone became terrified of Espers. It was much more than just mistrust and mild fear, it had now grown into full-blown terror. People were demanding that the government do something about us, but in truth, those in power were just as petrified as the people were. They didn`t know what to do, and fears of a human-Esper war were going global. An unstable atmosphere like that was perfect for Arcadia to prey upon society`s weaknesses. "If you`re so afraid of Arcadia, then why are you working for them?" I asked.

    "I didn`t do it because I wanted to," Yuki replied. "It wasn`t even my choice. A few months ago, I got a letter saying that I had been accepted into Arcadia`s ranks as an agent. I don`t know why or how they did it, they just chose me to work for them. More letters started coming in, telling me to do strange things. At first, they were little things, like spraying grafitti or leaving things in certain places. After a while, though, the letters got scary. They requested things like killing city workers and murdering entire gangs. I tried to ignore them, but they just kept coming in, more and more every day."

    "One day, they sent me a letter saying something along the lines of that if I didn`t do what the letters told me, Arcadia would send someone to...terminate me. They threatened to kill my mother and I, so I had no choice but to do what they said. I don`t want to go to jail, but...if I stop taking their requests, they`ll kill me...and my mother." She grabbed my collar and started thrashing me back and forth. "I don`t want that! Please, you have to help me!"

    I clutched her shoulders, gazing straight into her orb-like purple eyes. "Yuki, listen to me. Even though you didn`t join Arcadia of your own volition, you`re still one of their operatives.
I can`t let you go back home, it`s not safe. If you go back, they will find you and kill you, do you understand? I`ve dealt with these people before, and they are ruthless. You`re just a pawn to them. They couldn`t care less about your life or your mother`s. I have no choice but to take you into police custody."

    "But you can`t!" Yuki shouted. "You can`t leave my mother alone! Please, don`t do this! Just let me go-"

    She let out a hollow gasp. Her body crumpled as if she were a puppet whose strings had been cut. She fell to the ground, unconscious. Rintarou had shot her with a tranquilizer dart. "Sorry, Yuki. It`s for your own good. Come on, let`s bring her back to the station. I`ll send someone to take her mother someplace safe. We`ll save the questioning for later." He scooped up Yuki and slung her limp body over his shoulder. He had a forlorn look in his eyes. "Let`s get out of here, Chizuru."
Arcadia Zero: Paradise Lost: Chapter Two
The Sequel of Arcadia Zero. Six months after the chaos that wracked the city of Houston, Chizuru Mashiro and her friends thought their lives had returned to normal, but things are about to get even weirder, as a string of bizarre Esper-related murders crop up, hailing the resurrection of Arcadia. As Chizuru and her cohorts struggle to unravel the mystery, an enigmatic young girl appears before them, declaring herself as the mother of the Espers. As the tensions between humans and Espers rise to their breaking point, the true nature and origin of the Espers is revealed, and the curtain rises on a final showdown that may very well destroy all Espers and humans alike.


Arcadia Zero: Paradise Lost

By Alexandria Francetic

The Sequel of Arcadia Zero

Chapter One: The Monochrome City

    It was happening again. I had seen this place before. I stood in the center of a white-walled hallway, the icy tile floor beneath my bare feet. Locks of wavy, chestnut-brown hair tumbled over my shoulders, while I was clad in a plain, yet elegant white gown. My green eyes flashed, gaining a hint of red for a split-second. The bloody color quickly faded, but that fraction of a second told me all I needed to know. I was not alone here. An Esper`s aura was in this place.

    Cockroaches skittered past me as I walked foward, the dim, reddish lights above flickering with every step. My feet were soundless across the floor. Silence bombarded me. The only thing I could hear was the sound of my own diligent breathing. I headed to a single door at the end of the corridor. Without thought, I opened it. A room painted entirely in red spread before me, and someone was there to greet me.

    A young girl, around 14, sat in a single red armchair. The color of her flowing white dress and pale, corpse-like complexion clashed against the dominant crimson color scheme. A waterfall of wavy, snow-white hair cascaded over her shoulders. She had her pale, skinny arms folded in her lap, and her feet were bare, save for a crescent moon anklet clipped around her ankle. She regarded me with steady, unwavering brown eyes. "Oh, and who do we have here?" She spoke in a hushed, yet strangely polite tone.

    I stared at her. Memories flooded my subconscious. "We...we`ve met before, haven`t we?" She nodded. "Yes, we have. I`m glad you remember. I am Lynn, Queen of the Moon, and Mother of the Espers. I know you, too. Look at my face. This isn`t the first time we`ve met...Chizuru Mashiro. Isn`t that right?"

    "Why are you here?" I asked. "What do you want from me? And who are you, really?" Lynn`s gaze was as cold as ice. "Do you want me to reveal who I am? If I did that, I would have to reveal who you are as well. Knowing oneself means acknowledging one`s actions. I don`t think you`re quite ready to handle that yet. As for me...I`m the opposite of why you`ve fought Arcadia all this time.
I`m something you will never understand. And I believe we should probably keep it that way...for now, that is. Tell me, do you like hurting other people?"

    My jaw dropped. I found myself speechless. "Of...of course not! What are you trying to say?! Who do you think I am!? I`m not some monster!" Lynn peered up. "Oh, is that so? Is that why you killed Isaiah Akane with such mindless, merciless brutality? Your vectors crushed him to death. I can`t imagine he died a painless death, either. You`ve awakened fully as an Esper, and you`ve even summoned your Psycho Blade. How can you say you don`t take pleasure in what you do?"

    I clenched my fists. A single tear dripped from my eye. "Don`t...don`t you dare bring him up. You know damn well I didn`t want to do that. I had no choice. If I didn`t kill him, he would have killed so many others. But I was so angry...I couldn`t control myself. That wasn`t my fault, so stop talking like it is! I didn`t enjoy what I did to him at all!" Lynn tilted her head. "Oh, did I strike a nerve? I apologize. I am simply speaking the truth. You can`t keep running away from your instincts, you know. Isaiah Akane`s death was only the tip of the iceberg. You are powerful, Chizuru, more powerful than you even understand. How can you keep denying who you really are?"

    "Shut up!" I snapped. "You don`t know a damn thing about me, so shut up! If you`re just going to sit there and judge me, then why are you even here?! What are you trying to tell me!?" A gentle sigh escaped Lynn`s lips. "You`ll figure it out, in due time. For now, I`m just giving you a warning. You`re heading the wrong way. At best, you`ll end up dead. And yet, you yell at me like I`m the one to blame. You`re ignorant like a child. I wish we could have met under different circumstances, but this is just how it is. Soon enough, you will learn to see the true reality with your own eyes."

    I couldn`t contain my bottled-up rage any longer. I lunged foward and grabbed Lynn, wrapping my hands around her thin, pale neck. I squeezed hard, pressing deep into her cold skin. I expected her to struggle, but she just looked up at me with a wide, psychotic smile. "We`ll meet again, Chizuru Mashiro."

    A sharp pain in my head roused me out of sleep. I shot upright, tossing aside the blankets, nearly falling out of bed in my frenzied wakeup. Beads of sweat rolled down my skin. I gasped for breath. Rays of morning sunlight shined through the gaps in the blinds, casting down on the bed. I squinted, rubbing sleep out of my tired eyes. It was all just a horrible nightmare. But it felt so real. This wasn`t the first time I`d seen that girl, in that same place. So she wasn`t a figment of Isaiah Akane`s imagination. Maybe she was a figment of my own.

    I didn`t have time to sit in bed and ponder it. I had to get to work. My patrol shift was coming up soon. I got cleaned up and slipped into my police uniform, an outfit with a pleated black skirt, a frilled white blouse, and thigh-high ebony stockings. I clipped my badge to my collar. After I nervously forced down a breakfast of toast and eggs, I rushed out of my apartment and headed out into the bustling city streets of Houston.

    Six months had passed since the incident with Isaiah Akane and the solar eclipse. Most of the state was in total chaos at the time. Many Espers were driven mad by the sheer power of the eclipse and went on rampages, leaving destruction in their wake. That eclipse did something to me as well. I think it granted me the power to use my Psycho Blade, but I haven`t been able to summon it since then. I could stand under a pounding waterfall and will up enough concentration to put a Tibetan monk to shame, but the glass sword and white gown would never appear to me.

    Meanwhile, my partner, Rintarou Natsuki, and I were allowed back on the force to restore order thanks to the Espers that had gone nuts that day. It was a scary situation, since it was happening all over America, and full martial law was declared for the first time since the Civil War. It took about a month, and the entire country was in civil unrest, but we eventually got things back to some semblance of normality.

    The solar eclipse was remarkable in itself, since it had been the first eclipse to occur over the country in almost 100 years, and Texas just happened to be in the direct line of totality, making it even more astronomical. It was also the longest eclipse ever recorded in history, lasting for a full hour. No one could explain it, and now most people, including myself, spent much of the last six months trying to forget about it. I thought things had finally settled down by now, and they had, in a way. Until today.

    On the way to the station, I stopped by the Broken Heroes Cafe to pick up some coffee. An older man with long, messy red hair and a matching beard greeted me at the counter. "Morning, Chizuru! What`ll it be today?"

    "Ehh, just three coffees," I replied. "Don`t have enough money for another one. My wallet`s been a little thin lately. Economy`s rough, you know." After Charlie handed over the coffee, he gave me an extra one. "That one`s for you. It`s on the house." I smiled. "Thanks, Charlie." I wished I could have stayed there all day. Places like this felt so relaxing to me. I especially loved the smell of coffee. So nice.

    But I couldn`t stay forever. I needed to get moving. I checked in at the Harris County Police Department, expecting to get an earful from Detective Jarvis for being late or something. Thankfully, he didn`t show up for work today. One of the other officers told me his wife got sick, and he had to stay home to tend to her. I guessed even a hardass like him cared about his family.

    Hanako Suguwara and Takumi Tanaka were in the investigations room, sorting through old files and police reports. "Good morning, Chizuru," Hanako peeped, in her soft, mousey tone. She brushed back her long purple hair and pushed a stack of manila folders up onto a shelf. "Morning, Hanako," I said, setting the tray of coffee down on the desk. "I brought Starbucks for everyone."

    "Oh, hell yeah," Takumi piped up. He grabbed one of the coffee cups and gulped it down. "You don`t know how much I needed that. The raiding was brutal last night. I did get a lot of cool weapons out of it, though, so it was worth the all-nighter." Dark bags hung under his eyes, and his spiky blue hair was incredibly matted, indicating that he`d probably spent most of last night playing online video games. For someone who had a part-time job at the Department and attended college classes after that, it was pretty irresponsible. But I wasn`t one to judge. I`d pulled my fair share of all-nighters marathoning the latest anime series.

    I sighed lowly, taking a sip of coffee. "Hey, where`s Rintarou? He should be here by now, don`t you think?" Hanako shook her head. "I don`t know. I texted him before I left this morning. It`s not like him to be late." Just then, a colossal crash echoed from downstairs, making the floor rattle. I rolled my eyes. "Speak of the devil."

    The door was flung open, and the blonde-haired, red-eyed, waistcoat-clad Esper officer charged through like a raging bull. As usual, he looked pissed. I almost imagined steam hissing out of his ears. He punched a hole in the wall and let out a roar. "I woke up this morning and you idiots blew up my phone with 27 notifications! And what`s with all the frickin` happy faces?! Who do you think you are, HUH!? I was late thanks to you!"

    "Rintarou, calm down," I said. "If you got up late for work, that`s your fault, not ours. We all texted you over a dozen times to get up, so that explains your notification flood." I handed him his coffee. "And you`re paying for the wall, too." Rintarou frowned, seeming to notice the error of his actions. "Crap. I`m sorry." His stomach rumbled hungrily. "God, I`m starving."

    Now it was just the four of us, Rintarou Natsuki, Hanako Suguwara, Takumi Tanaka, and I, Chizuru Mashiro, the ragtag group of Espers in the Harris County Police Department. At first glance,
we just looked like your friendly everyday law enforcement officers. If you didn`t know who we were, you`d never guess we belonged to a divergent evolutionary subspecies of humans with evolved genes and supernatural abilities. Call them abilities, powers, vectors, PK, whatever you want, our paranormal talents make us who we are, each in different ways.

    But you wouldn`t know it just by looking at us. It`s not like we have pink hair or pointy horns or anything. That`s the point. We Espers have blended in so well with humanity that, in a way, we have become humanity. That`s why normal people are so afraid of us, because they believe we will eventually outnumber and replace them. And with powers like ours, I couldn`t blame them for being scared. But we`re police officers, and our job is to uphold our sworn duty to protect the citizens of this city, be they human or Esper.

    Work went on as usual that day, as it had for the past six months since the eclipse chaos ended. There had been no sign of Arcadia, no bizarre murders, and no threats of human extinction.
From my view, all of those things counted as huge pluses. I wasn`t eager to repeat the horrific events I had experienced last summer. But just like Lynn told me, I couldn`t keep running from who I really was.

    After sorting through the stacks and stacks of police files and autopsy reports, Hanako, Takumi, Rintarou, and I headed out into the city on patrol. For a city this size, things were rather peaceful. Unfortunately, that peace was merely the calm before the storm. Our patrol continued for hours, well into the afternoon, with nothing particularly out of order aside from a few jaywalkers and parking tickets.

    Then, the radio dangling from my collar crackled to life. "Come in, Officer Mashiro." I twitched at the sudden noise, quickly grabbing the radio to reply. "Officer Mashiro here, what`s the situation?"

    "A civil disturbance has been reported at an apartment complex in the Heights," it answered. "We have reason to believe the perpetrator may be armed. Gunshots have been heard. Assistance is needed immediately." I nodded sharply. "I`m on it." I glanced to the others. "Alright, let`s get a move on." A thrilled grin spread across Rintarou`s face. "Finally, we`ll get to see some action today. I`ve been eager to get to some ass-kicking." He cracked his knuckles, showing his pointed teeth. I shivered a little. Was it any surprise he was the most feared officer on the force?

    We followed the address sent to us by the department and headed up to the Heights as quickly as we could. I wouldn`t be surprised if it was just some gangbangers or drug dealers duking it out. It wasn`t all that uncommon, especially in the projects and ghettos like this. We arrived at a ratty apartment complex which didn`t look much better than the near-crackhouse where Takumi lived.
The paint was chipped and peeling, several broken windows had been boarded up, and the doors were falling off the hinges. But we had bigger concerns at the moment than the building`s structural integrity.

    A huge crowd of civilians had gathered in the parking lot, pointing up at the second floor and filling the area with indistinct chatter. We pushed our way through the crowd to confront the landlord. "What`s going on here?" I asked. "We received a report of a civil disturbance." The woman`s knees quivered. She could barely speak. "S-someone`s up there. T-they have a gun, and they`ve...killed someone. A person...was killed up there...we heard the gunshots, and of the residents saw blood dripping from the ceiling! T-they`re in...Room 707, on the second floor! have to hurry!"

    Rintarou showed the woman a sharp nod. "Don`t worry, we`ll take care of it." He drew his weapon, a Springfield XD, and the rest of us followed suit, even Hanako. While Hanako had always been afraid of guns, she took it upon herself to learn to use one after Isaiah Akane kidnapped her and nearly sold her off to a Mexican druglord. One by one, in single file, we swiftly moved into the apartment complex. I took the lead, taking quick glances around the corners to make sure we weren`t being ambushed. Quickly, yet quietly, we moved up the stairs, scanning the door plates for Room 707.

    My eyes caught the number, and we halted beside it, with two of us on each side of the doorframe. It wasn`t a wise idea to be standing right in front of it, especially if this person was armed. They could just shoot through the door and kill one of us. I carefully leaned my arm in and gave a sharp rap. "Harris County Police Department, open the door and surrender now!" Typical, only silence answered us. No criminals ever opened the door for us when we told them to, it was just one of those mandatory cop things that had been drilled into our brains since Police Academy.
    Rintarou wasn`t in the mood for being patient. "If you don`t wanna open the door, then I`ll do it for you!" he bellowed. He launched a hard kick, bringing up a plume of dust as the door was blown from its hinges. It didn`t take much effort, even if Rintarou wasn`t using his full strength. We charged in with weapons blazing, and while I expected to find myself staring down the muzzle of a shotgun, that wasn`t the case. The room seemed initially empty. A numbing silence filled the air. I shook my head. "Maybe he already got away." Rintarou growled. "Either that or he`s hiding, waiting for us to get in the line of fire."

    "Well, we won`t find out just standing here," Hanako piped up. "Let`s proceed with caution." With movements as swift as a cat`s, we moved into the apartment`s main living room. My nostrils were assailed by the rank stench of rotting blood. I glanced to the side wall, and I nearly threw up. A man was staked to the wall. I`m not even kidding. He had his arms spread out in a crucifixion pose, with glinting silver stakes stabbed through his body and anchored to the sheetrock, holding him in place. Streams of blood slithered down his corpse and dripped to the floor, leaving a red puddle beneath him. His dead eyes were open wide as if in stark terror. I noticed a pistol lying on the floor not far from where he was crucified.

    Hanako and Takumi gasped in shock. Even Rintarou looked stunned. "Wha...what the hell? How`d this happen?" I locked my gaze on the blood-soaked pistol. My eyes shined a bright red, and it levitated in midair, floating closer to my face. "Whatever happened to him, I don`t think he was shot. He was the one shooting. I think he was trying to defend himself from whoever did...this."
    My skin prickled. The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end. The others seemed to be on high alert, their eyes the color of burning brimstone. I dropped the bloody pistol. "There`s an Esper here," I said flatly. We Espers had a knack for sensing each other`s auras, even from a far distance. But this Esper`s aura felt overwhelming. I caught the sound of a faint footstep.
I whirled around. I used my telekinesis to tear a stray stake from the man`s body and shoot it off like a rocket. It halted in front of a woman`s thin, pale throat.

    Rintarou, Takumi, and Hanako trained their weapons on the mysterious lady. The woman couldn`t have been much older than me, perhaps 25. She looked like a businesswoman, dressed in a yellow skirted suit and black thigh-highs. Her short, jet-black hair was done up in a ponytail with a red ribbon. Her eyes were a dull brown, and her expression was like that of stone. "Who are you?"
I snapped. "Did you kill that man?"

    The Esper woman didn`t seem at all fazed by the sheer amount of weaponry being aimed at her, or by the fact that she was surrounded by other Espers. "My name is Juri Hakodate. And yes, I did kill that man. But don`t misunderstand. I did not kill him simply for the pleasure of it. I meted out punishment to someone that the police refused to acknowledge. Therefore, I am truly the innocent one in this situation."

    I glared at her. "What are you talking about? What did he do to deserve being staked to the wall?" Juri`s emotionless gaze did not waver. "I killed him out of revenge, of course. He terrorized an innocent young woman- not me, mind you, but a woman nonetheless. He stalked her and followed her everywhere, even threatening to kill her. He was a truly unstable man. He put her through such fear and terror that when I got wind of the situation, I took matters into my own hands. I learned of where he lived, and I removed that human blight from the Earth."
    Rintarou stared at her, speechless. "You`re crazy. We`re taking you into custody, Ms. Hakodate." Juri`s brown eyes flared up red. "Oh, really? I think not." It all happened so fast. First, I caught the sound of grating metal. I shuddered. "Get down!" The others dropped to the floor, while I jabbed my palms out, creating a barrier that shielded my teammates and I from an assault of blood-soaked stakes. The victim`s body laid slumped on the floor, mangled beyond recognition. I compressed my telekinetic barrier into a shockwave, flinging the stakes away from me and into the wall.

    I whipped my head around to face Juri. "`re a telekinetic like me, aren`t you?" She gave me that same stony gaze. "No, I`m afraid not. I wield the power of ferrokinesis, which allows me to control and manipulate anything made of metal...even the metal in my own body." She clenched her fists, causing curled steel claw-like appendages to erupt from her knuckles. They were more like curled knives emerging from her hands. "Now that you`ve seen my face, I`m afraid I can`t let you live."

    She lunged at me with her claws out, ready to stab me. I jumped back and ripped out my gun, firing off a few shots. She avoided them all, deflecting the bullets with a couple swipes of her claws. "You`re strong. I didn`t think you could avoid so many stakes at once on such short notice. Your vectors must have sensed them for you. It`s like you have eyes in the back of your head."
She thrust her claws into the floor, causing every metal object in the room, including the stakes, to levitate in midair. All of them were aimed at me. "Chizuru, watch out!" Takumi shouted.

    My body reacted faster than my mind could keep up. Putting my telekinesis to work, I lifted up the coffee table and held it out in front of me just as the barrage of sharp metal came flying. The pointy tips of knives, stakes, and other metal objects poked through the back of the table, inches away from my face. I gulped. I swung my arm and flung the coffee table at Juri, hoping to crush her with it.

    She leapt out of its path, dodging at a moment`s notice. She moved like lightning, unleashing a swarm of thin steel wires from her wrists. They moved so fast, I didn`t have enough time to react. They wrapped around my arms and legs, throwing me to the floor. A single wire bound around my neck and pointed its end at my throat. I gasped in shock. The assault took me by pure surprise. "So, this is the feared telekinetic everyone`s so afraid of?" Juri asked. "I`m a bit disappointed. I thought you`d be able to rip me limb from limb with your thought alone. Or maybe you`re just afraid of using your full power. Either way, I expected a bit more from someone said to be one of the strongest Espers in the city."

    I looked up at her, gritting my teeth. "Why...why are you doing this?!" Juri`s voice was just as monotone as ever. "I wouldn`t expect someone like you to understand. I am a part of the force set on purifying the corrupted world, so that when our race finally becomes the new humanity, we may make the world our heaven. And part of fulfilling our duty to create our new heaven is to eliminate the impure. As an Esper, that is what your abilities were designed to do. But you haven`t been tending to that duty at all, have you?"

    I felt a sharp pain in my chest. This wasn`t the first time I had heard words like that. Images of Lynn came to mind. "Yeah, and what do you know?! You`re just one of their puppets, right!? Well, I won`t listen to it! Unlike you, I`ve never killed a human!" The steel wires squeezed tighter, slicing into my skin. I clenched my teeth. "Oh, so that`s how you wish to do things?" Juri asked. "If that`s how we`re judging ourselves, you`re no better than me. Unlike you, I`ve never killed one of our species. But that might just change today."

    My eyes widened. "You`re with Arcadia, aren`t you?" Juri`s answer was a slight hint of a smile. I felt the cold tip of the wire press against my throat. Just then, my binds were released all at once as Rintarou charged out, smashing the splintered remains of the coffee table into Juri`s face. She was launched across the room. She hit the ground, groaning in pain. "Keep your damn dirty hands off of her," Rintarou rumbled, growling deep in his throat. "Takumi, now!"

    The blue-haired young man nodded. "Got it!" He reached into his blazer jacket and whipped out a pair of water bottles. He popped off the caps, and his eyes shined red. A pair of watery serpents slithered from the bottles, composed entirely of liquid. Takumi ordered them to attack the ferrokinetic woman. Her eyes narrowed. "Damn." She slashed away the water dragons with her claws before they had a chance to devour her. She turned to glare at me one last time. "This isn`t over, Mashiro."

    Juri leapt to the balcony and jumped, releasing a steel wire from her wrist. It latched onto a nearby electric pole and pulled her to safety. My vectors reached out to grab her, but it was too late. My telekinesis could only reach things within about 50 feet of my sight, and by the time I made it to the balcony, Juri was already far out of my reach. She vanished over the surrounding rooftops. Hanako, Takumi, and Rintarou gathered around me. "Who was that lady?" Takumi asked. "And what`s with all that weird stuff she was talking about?"

    "I`ve heard nonsense talk like that before," Rintarou replied. "Sounds like Arcadia jargon if I`ve ever heard it." Hanako chimed in, "But isn`t Arcadia disbanded? I thought we took them down last year, after we defeated Isaiah Akane. Maybe she`s a copycat criminal?" My eyes were fixated on the sunset. "I don`t think so. Arcadia isn`t officially disbanded. Isaiah Akane was only the leader of Arcadia`s operations in Texas. The way she reminded me of him. I think...Arcadia is coming back to finish what they started."
Arcadia Zero: Paradise Lost: Chapter One
The Sequel of Arcadia Zero. Six months after the chaos that wracked the city of Houston, Chizuru Mashiro and her friends thought their lives had returned to normal, but things are about to get even weirder, as a string of bizarre Esper-related murders crop up, hailing the resurrection of Arcadia. As Chizuru and her cohorts struggle to unravel the mystery, an enigmatic young girl appears before them, declaring herself as the mother of the Espers. As the tensions between humans and Espers rise to their breaking point, the true nature and origin of the Espers is revealed, and the curtain rises on a final showdown that may very well destroy all Espers and humans alike.


Chapter Three: Pisces and Aquarius

    The next morning, I busily worked at my computer, my fingers tapping away on the keyboard as I typed up emails and filled out police reports. The memory of last night`s skirmish with Isaiah Akane was still fresh and burning in my mind. I sipped my coffee, trying to distract myself from it. Isaiah got away, and now God only knew where he was. Who was he? Why was he doing all this? Was he really tied to Arcadia? I didn`t know, and I had spent most of the night wracking my brain to try to figure it out. No luck.

    As per usual, I yawned loudly, dark bags hanging beneath my eyes. I hung my head, seconds away from dozing off at my desk. Then, my drifting was shattered by a familiar, bellowing shout.
And no, for once, it wasn`t Rintarou. Detective Jarvis`s voice echoed down the hall. "CHIIIZUUURRUUUU!"

    Of course, his roaring sent me running to his office as fast as I could. I ran inside and jumped into the chair in front of his desk. I stared at him and gulped. He looked like he was about to go postal. "Uhh...what can I do for you, Sir?" I chuckled, scratching the back of my neck. Jarvis`s irate expression remained. "What in the name of God where you doing with Officer Natsuki last night?"

    Oh, crap, I thought. I`m in trouble. " see...Rintarou and I decided to investigate that suicide yesterday. When I examined the victim`s body, I noticed she had traces of an Esper`s aura. I checked out the Blue Whale forum she visited before she died, and through my genius deductive reasoning skills, I was able to figure out that she was in fact murdered by an Esper named Isaiah Akane, whose ability is the power of brainwashing and hypnotism. I confronted him because I wanted to take him into custody, didn`t quite turn out that way."

    Jarvis still looked mental. "And who gave you the authority to do that, Officer Mashiro?! Because as far as I know, I never gave you that task, and you are certainly not qualified enough to be taking on a dangerous job like that!" I crossed my arms. "Then who is, Detective? Seriously, who? These Arcadia murders have been going on for what, a year now? And not a single one of them has been solved. We haven`t even figured anything out about Arcadia itself. I think this Isaiah Akane has something to do with it. He talked like he was involved with it somehow. He`s dangerous, he had to be caught before he killed anyone else."

    "But you didn`t catch him, did you?" Jarvis asked. "You almost got yourself killed in the process too. Look, just...stop being so reckless. This is way out of your league. I made a promise to Charlie that I`d watch over you until you were capable enough to handle yourself on your own. I know you don`t want to hear this, but I`m just not seeing that right now. You`re a patrol officer, not an undercover cop or a homicide detective. You`re not qualified to handle that position yet."

    "Then when will I be?!" I snapped, my eyes gleaming red. I couldn`t control my outburst. "I became a police officer to enforce justice, protect the innocent, and punish the guilty, not to write traffic tickets all day to raise money for the city! With my power, I know I can do so much more! Why can`t you see that, Detective?" Jarvis sighed. "I can see that. I can see it very well. That`s what worries me. You remind me of myself when I was your age. You`ve got strong ideals, Chizuru. You also have incredible power. I don`t think you understand what you`re getting into. Last night should have been a dose of reality. The world is a dangerous place, and I`m afraid you`re not going to realize that until something horrible happens. By the way...where is Natsuki? Weren`t you supposed to be keeping an eye on him?"

    As those words left his lips, a gigantic crash echoed from outside. I slumped back in my chair, rolling my eyes. "Oh no, not again." I rushed out into the parking lot of the station, running straight into a war zone. The first thing I witnessed once I left the doors was Rintarou gripping a portly, punkish young man by his collar. Blood dripped down his face. "How dare you insult an officer of the law?!" Rintarou bellowed. "Do I look like a butler to you!? You`ve got some nerve, you piece of trash!"

    He lifted the man above his head and whirled him around like a pinwheel, then tossed him into a nearby fence. Rintarou growled, brushing off his uniform. " annoying." He glared at a few other people in the parking lot. "So, who else wants to screw with me? Any takers? I`m in the mood to beat some ass." Unsurprisingly, the people surrounding him dispersed rather quickly.

    Great. Just what I needed. I ran up to the blonde and squeezed his wrist. "What do you think you`re doing!? Did you see a crime being committed?!"

    "That dirtbag was insulting me," Rintarou grumbled. "He called me a butler, and acted like I was some kinda British fruitcake or something!"

    "That wasn`t my question!" I said. "Did you see a crime being committed!?" He sighed, realizing his error. "No, I did not. But how else am I supposed to react when people act like that?"
I facepalmed. "Well, you don`t beat them half to death! See, this is why you don`t have any friends! Anyone you come across, three seconds later, you`re trying to kill them!" The blonde scoffed. "What do you think this is, nursery school? I`m here to make money, not friends. I have to eat, you know. And on that hot topic...I`ve decided what case we`re gonna be handling next."

    He reached into his vest and handed me a manila envelope. I took out its contents. "Another murder?" Rintarou nodded. "Yeah, except this one`s different. When they did the autopsy, they found the victim`s lungs filled with water." I squinted. "Water? So he drowned, then?"

    "That`s the cause of death they determined," Rintarou replied. "Weird thing is, he wasn`t anywhere near water when he died. Not a pool, a bathtub, or even a sink. He was found lying dead on his living room floor. Now, this is a special case for us, `cause the victim was a Texas congressman. So I can imagine the Capital`s gonna be crawlin` up the boss`s rear end if this doesn`t get figured out."

    I flitted through the pictures. "Drowning without water? Seems suspicious to me. Maybe Isaiah Akane`s at it again. He`s still out there, you know. Or it could be Arcadia. A political figure seems like someone they would target." As I searched the pictures, I came across a peculiar one- a photo of an empty drinking glass, tipped over. Drips of water were splattered on the floor.
"Maybe he was near water after all. There`s an empty glass here, but it`s knocked over. Not only that, but there`s water drips on the ground, so it must have been filled at some point."

    Rintarou glanced over my shoulder. "What, you think he drowned in his own water glass? Even for you, this is an all-new crazy. Far-fetched, much?" I shook my head. "Maybe not." Back at the office, I logged onto the Houston Esper Database and began my search. "You think an Esper killed him?" Rintarou inquired. "Well, it wouldn`t be the first time," I answered. "Years ago, I remember Charlie telling me about a rare type of Esper, with the power of aquakinesis, the ability to manipulate water and other liquids with their minds. It`s a very rare ability, almost as rare as Isaiah`s. I can`t even control water with my telekinesis."

    I searched up the Espers by ability, and only one in all of Houston came up as an aquakinetic. A thin, pale young man with spiky dark-blue hair and golden eyes. "Takumi Tanaka," I read.
"19 years old, ability, aquakinesis. He lives in an apartment complex in the Heights." Rintarou scoffed at his picture. "Seriously? That kid is so tiny, I could throw his scrawny ass across Texas." I stood up. "Appearances are a bad way to judge an Esper. You of all people should know that. So, let`s go pay this Takumi Tanaka fellow a visit."

    Our trip to the Houston Heights took us to a pretty crummy part of town. Vagrants and other suspicious, unsavory-looking individuals wandered the streets. Piles of trash were pushed up against fences like snowdrifts. The address listed on Takumi`s profile led us to a shambled apartment complex. I honestly wouldn`t be surprised if people were selling drugs in the hallways. "What a dump," Rintarou grumbled. "Every one of these people look like they could use an ass-kicking." I rolled my eyes. "Please don`t. Jarvis already chewed me out this morning for what happened last night, I really don`t want to get another earful."

    I approached Takumi`s apartment and knocked on the door. "Harris County Police Department. We have a few questions for you." Silence. No one answered. Rintarou stepped foward and grabbed the doorknob. "You better open this door, or I`m tearing it down!" That got things moving. The door opened a crack, and a golden eye peeked out. "Who...who are you people? You`re not here to...abduct me...are you? I know them...they come for me every night..."

    Yup. A total nutbag. "We`re not here to abduct you," I said. "We`re the Harris County Police Department, and we`d like to ask you some questions involving a recent murder. We just need some information. Can we come in?" The door opened, revealing the skinny, blue-haired young man, the only aquakinetic in all of Texas. I didn`t doubt it, his Esper aura immediately flooded my senses, but his overwhelming aura didn`t match up with his appearance. "I`m...Takumi Tanaka," he said. "Come in."

    Rintarou and I flashed our badges. "Thank you. I am Officer Chizuru Mashiro, and this is my partner, Officer Rintarou Natsuki." The blonde growled at him. He flinched. "You`re...both Espers."
I glanced around his apartment. His shelves were cluttered with books, DVD`s, anime figures, video games, and other nerdy paraphernalia. He must have been one of those shut-in otaku gamer types
that make love to a body pillow of their favorite anime girl. Okay, maybe that was a rather broad generalization. I noticed a figure of a familiar character on his shelf. Maybe if I talked about something easy first, I could loosen him up a bit.

    "That`s Prim Megami, isn`t it? From that book?" Takumi nodded. "Yes, she`s from Clockwork Destiny. You like Erika Levette`s work? She`s my favorite author. I`ve been trying to collect everything related to her novels. I`m still waiting for Crimson Fairy to come out. You know, the last installment of Broken Sweetheart? She`s got it on hiatus. I even put a preorder on the new Star Queen figure. It`s going to be pretty expensive, though."

    I kind of lost him there. "Yeah, we get it, you`re a nerd," Rintarou butted in. "We`re not here to talk about that. We`re here to talk about the murder that happened yesterday. A congressman was found dead in his living room, and the determined cause of death was drowning. Since you`re an aquakinetic, please explain how one drowns without being anywhere near water." Takumi seized up. So much for taking this one step at a time. "What, you think because I`m the only aquakinetic in the city means I`m automatically the one who did it? I`m not a murderer!"

    "Listen, no one is accusing you of anything," I assured him. "But from what we`ve seen, the only thing he could have possibly drowned on would be the water in a drinking glass we saw tipped over on the floor. We just want to know the truth so we can catch the person who did it. Takumi, has anything strange happened to you recently? Anything unusual? We`re Espers too, you don`t have to worry about being feared for your power. You can tell us anything."

    Takumi swallowed hard. "Well...the thing is, I never really leave the house. I`m not good with people. I`m studying at the Houston Community College, but I don`t go all that often. Being around people just...makes me feel nervous. I`d rather be here instead, at least it`s safe. Or...that`s what I thought, anyway. Until I met...him. He told me about all sorts of horrible things, like Espers exterminating humans and taking over the world so we could be the new dominant species. The whole time, he kept going on about some patriotic bullcrap. Scared me to death. That man...he changed me. After that...I just lost it. I lost the will to fight. It was like he stole my soul. I started having bad dreams, really bad. Dreams where people died because of my power. I haven`t left this room since then. I just can`t take it...I don`t know what`s happening to me..."

    Worry bubbled in my mind. He was describing an awful, yet familiar feeling. "Takumi, can you tell me what this man looked like? Do you know his name?" Takumi remained silent for a moment. Then, he answered. "He had black hair. He was an Esper, just like me. I could feel it. He was very tall, and he wore a long coat. But his name...he never told me." Rintarou and I exchanged a nervous glance. This was not good.

    I had to make a decision. Obviously Isaiah Akane had touched this young man somehow. Takumi was in danger if I just left him alone here, especially if he was indeed the one responsible for the congressman`s assassination by water. "Well...Takumi, we`ve heard of several crimes involving this man you speak of. We have good reason to believe you could be in danger. We`d like to take you into custody, until we can determine that it`s safe for you to return home. From what you`ve described, this man is most likely Isaiah Akane. We don`t know much about him, but we believe he could be involved with Arcadia. Not only that, but as an Esper, he has the ability to brainwash others into doing his bidding. Just a couple days ago, he hypnotized a woman into jumping off a building. If we leave you alone here, he might come back for you. I would also like to ask you some more questions as a witness."

    Takumi`s golden eyes were huge. It seemed as if he knew exactly what I was talking about. He nodded slowly. "I...I understand. It just seems like I`m losing my mind...I don`t even know what`s real anymore...please, protect me!" I gave him a weak smile. "Don`t worry, we`re the police. We`re here to protect you."

    Later that evening, we took Takumi Tanaka back to the station. "Looks like it`s time for the interrogation," I said. "You sure you don`t need me to help?" Rintarou asked. "If that punk doesn`t talk, I can always go for the Yellow Pages interrogation. Works every time." I rolled my eyes. "No, I do not need you to beat the crap out of him with a phonebook. He seems to trust me somewhat, but you keep looking at him like you`re about to disembowel him. We won`t get any substantial information from him if you`re there."

    He punched the wall, creating a huge gouge in the sheetrock. "What`s that supposed to mean?!" I ignored him. "I`m going in. You`re paying for that, you know." I entered the interrogation chamber and sat down at a desk across from the blue-haired young man. "`s you, Officer Mashiro."

    "Chizuru is fine," I said. "Now, I`d like to ask you a few things. First of all...why do you always lock yourself up in your apartment? Is it just because you`re afraid of Isaiah?" Takumi shook his head. "It`s not just that...I`ve been like that for years now. It happened back when I was in middle school. At the time, my aquakinesis was out of control. It was a summer day...I was at the pool, and this kid was messing with me. He was trying to start a fight with me, I think."

    " power just started acting on its own. I couldn`t contol it at all. My mind went black, my eyes burned red, and I caught the kid in a huge sphere of water I pulled out of the pool with my mind. I just held him there, even when he was squirming and choking. I was trying to drown him. And I would have done it, if my mom hadn`t come in to stop me. She snapped me out of it, and I dropped the kid, but he almost drowned. After that...everyone at school was afraid of me. They called me a mutant and a freak. Even my parents looked at me like I wasn`t their child anymore.
I couldn`t take I dropped out of school and closed myself off. I thought that if I stayed away from everyone else, then they wouldn`t be afraid of me, and they wouldn`t hate me...but I was wrong."

    My jaw nearly hit the desk. I didn`t want to believe he could have murdered the congressman, but the more I heard from him, the more I thought otherwise. Takumi looked like he was on the brink of bursting into tears. "Chizuru...can I tell you something? Can you keep it a secret?"

    "Of course," I replied. "We are Espers, we are one and the same. You can tell me anything." Takumi spoke. "Last night...I had a nightmare. I didn`t know where I was, but it was a stranger`s house. Someone was talking to me. Like a voice, in my head. He was telling me to kill 'that person.' I said no, I said I didn`t want to do that, but he forced me. I couldn`t fight back. I felt like a doll...or a puppet."

    "This man appeared in front of me and...I killed him. There was water I shoved it down his throat. He thrashed and choked, but I couldn`t stop. It felt just like what happened to me at the pool. I...drowned him. Then...I woke up in my apartment. At first, I thought it was just a bad dream, but...I noticed my clothes were wet. After you told me about the murder, that`s when I realized...that dream was real. I killed that man...but it wasn`t my fault! I couldn`t stop it...I couldn`t do anything!"

    I gasped as he pounced on me, wrapping his arms around my small body. The chair nearly tipped over. Takumi might not have been the biggest man around, but he was bigger than me. He sobbed into my shoulder. "Chizuru...please...if they arrest me, they`ll ship me off to a lab to be dissected! I don`t want to die!" Tears welled up in my eyes. I slowly lifted my arms, wrapping them around his broad shoulders. I ran my fingers through his spiky blue hair. "It`s okay, Takumi. It`s not your fault. I won`t let anything happen to you, I promise."

    We separated, and I left the room, about to start crying. I went back to the lobby, plopping down in a seat next to Rintarou. He busily licked a blue popsicle. "So, what happened? I heard crying in there. Did you take my advice about the Yellow Pages?" I shook my head. "He just admitted to the murder. But it really wasn`t his fault. Isaiah obviously brainwashed him to do it against his will. Anyone with half a brain can see that. But how can we convince Jarvis and the judges not to lock him up? If Takumi does get arrested, they`ll take him to the Esper Research Institute, and the scientists there will torture him and perform experiments on him until he dies. I don`t know what to do..."

    Rintarou devoured his popsicle, twirling the stick between his fingers before he snapped it in half. "Well, no one said this job was gonna be easy. You can`t let him walk just because you feel sorry for him. That`s not how this works. I mean, he is a pathetic kid, I didn`t think he`d do something like that on his own, but I doubt the judges are gonna see it that way. I can`t answer this kinda stuff. I`m no lawyer, I`m just a 23 year-old shmuck who can`t even order lunch at McDonald`s without having everyone in the restaurant running away. If you saw the looks on their faces, you`d think I was gonna eat them."

    I leaned back in my seat, staring up at the TV mounted on the wall in the corner. It played a report on the local news about some masked maniac that allegedly murdered a family of Espers.
What was going on in this city? It seemed like everything was just falling apart. Not only that, but they also mentioned something else about a total solar eclipse occurring sometime next month. Apparently it was a rare event that happened once every hundred years or something. Maybe it was a sign of the end times.

    Just then, a scream pierced through the halls. I leapt from my perch and ran in the direction of the noise, like a predator catching the scent of blood. "Chizuru, wait!" Rintarou shouted, pursuing me. I burst into the interrogation room. It was empty. Takumi was gone. The only people there were a few officers that seemed like they had tried to subdue him, but were now lying unconscious on the floor. Puddles of water spread across the tile. I realized the water came from a tipped-over watercooler. I pressed my fingers against one of the officers` necks, feeling a pulse. "He`s still alive. We have to find Takumi. I think Isaiah`s caught him again."

    "Better get moving, then," Rintarou snarled. "I can smell that punk from here." Rintarou and I rushed out of the police station, scanning for Esper aura. Nothing. My heart pounded in my chest. "How are we going to find him? He could have gone anywhere." Rintarou shrugged. "Well, his power only works when he`s near water, right? He couldn`t have gotten that far. You know any place around here with large bodies of water?"

    My eyes lit up. "Wait, there`s Discovery Green! You know, the park behind the convention center? It`s got a big pond, it`s the closest place he could have gone!" Rintarou and I took off, racing across the moonlit streets to reach Discovery Green. While Downtown Houston wasn`t the safest place to be running around in at night, thieves the least of our worries. After a ten-minute sprint, we bolted into Discovery Green, only to be greeted by a cyclone of water shooting up from the park`s center.

    I drew my tranquilizer pistol. "Yup, that`s him." Rintarou tore a lightpole from the concrete with ease. Just a word of advice: if signs, lightpoles, or other large objects keep disappearing from your streets, it`s probably because Rintarou ripped it out and used it as a bludgeoning weapon. Don`t be surprised if your tax rates go up too. It wasn`t like he didn`t have a gun, he did, but he just chose not to use it. With our weapons in tow, we ran to the center of the park, skidding to a stop.

    Streams of water shot up from the nearby pond like a synchronized performance. And the conductor of this aquatic show was none other than Takumi Tanaka. "Takumi, stop it!" I snapped.
He glanced over his shoulder, a hollow gaze in his red eyes. It was as if his soul had been sucked from his body. "GO AWAY!" he bellowed. He swung his arm, sending a blade of water careening toward us. We leapt out of the water`s path as it cut through the bushes, even mowing down a tree in the process. I aimed my tranquilizer pistol at his neck and squeezed the trigger. The dart flew from the muzzle, but it never struck its target. Takumi guarded himself with a wall of water. "I won`t die!" he roared. "I won`t let them kill me!"

    Meanwhile, Rintarou was pissed. I mean, like really pissed. "You done talking, dead man?!" He charged at Takumi like a raging bull, smacking him with the lightpole he wielded. The impact created a shockwave that propelled Takumi into the pond. Seconds later, he rose from the water, twirling his hands in a rhythmic fashion. Slithering serpents composed of water erupted from the pond and shot at Rintarou, wrapping around his body. They lifted him into the air, then threw him back down into the concrete, leaving a crater behind.

    At the same time, I fired several darts at him, but each and every one of my projectiles were knocked away by Takumi`s water dragons. "Stop this, please!" I begged. "Takumi, listen to me! This isn`t you, you`re being controlled! Snap out of it! You have to break free! Listen to my voice, Takumi!" He wasn`t listening. One of the watery serpents lunged for me, its jaws wide open. With split-second timing, I holstered my tranquilizer and whipped out my real Colt 1911, pumping a bullet into the creature. It exploded on contact, causing a surge of water to splash down on me, drenching my uniform.

    I kept shooting the water dragons, but for every one I destroyed, three more took its place. I aimed Takumi in my sights. I contemplated shooting him. I knew if I shot him, this would stop, but it would kill him as well. My hands shook. I couldn`t make myself pull the trigger. I remembered him in the interrogation room, crying and hugging me. This was not Takumi. My mental fortitude melted. I couldn`t do it.

    My indecision soon proved deadly. A pair of water serpents rushed at me from the sides. I locked up. There was nowhere to go. I couldn`t react fast enough. The dragons swallowed me whole, trapping me within a churning sphere of water. I held my breath as the sphere spun, knocking me back and forth within the watery confines. All I could see were spinning, distorted images of the blue-haired young man. I wanted to scream at him to stop, but my breath was stuck in my lungs. No amount of thrashing could break me free. My breath ran thin. I couldn`t keep this up much longer.
    The water sphere spun even faster. I felt like I was trapped in a washing machine. With one hard, harsh lurch, the stale air was knocked from my lungs. My mouth jerked open, causing my remaining breath to escape in a swarm of skittering bubbles. I inhaled a mouthful of water. I flailed about, clawing at my throat. Water flooded my lungs. I had to do something- fast, before I drowned.

    I stretched my eyelids as wide as possible. An icepick-like pain stabbed into my brain, causing my green eyes to burn crimson. I thrust my arms to my sides, using my telekinesis to make the watery death trap burst like a bubble. Once I was free, I crashed to the ground, the impact forcing the water from my lungs. I sucked in gulps of air. While I laid on the ground, drenched, Rintarou made his comeback. His clothes were soaked as well, indicating that he had probably been caught by Takumi`s water serpents too. He clenched his teeth, his gaze blood-red. "You little tried to drown us both. That means you were trying to kill us, right? So that means whatever I do to you what you deserve, right!?"

    He snatched up his makeshift lightpost weapon and jumped, leaping over 20 feet into the air. He looked as if he were flying. He soared past Takumi`s water traps and slammed him with the pole, launching the blue-haired teenager into the concrete. The strike was powerful enough to create a sonic boom. The ground shook as Takumi slammed into the pavement. Rintarou gracefully landed on his feet, like a cat. He pinned Takumi to the ground with just one hand. Rage seethed through him. "Give me one good reason why I shouldn`t snap you in half," he rumbled.

    Finally, it seemed as if the spell had been broken. Takumi`s eyes returned to their original state, and once he witnessed the blonde monster towering over him, he threw himself into a fit of thrashing and screaming. " wasn`t me!" he squealed. "Let me go!"

    An echoing laugh tainted the nighttime air. I spun around. A pair of blood-red eyes shone in the nearby trees. Before I could even do as much as gasp, the apparition vanished. I knew it.
He was the one who did this. I turned back to the squirming Takumi. Right now, it was best if we just put him out for tonight. I pressed the muzzle of my tranquilizer gun into his neck, squeezing the trigger. The dart pricked him, rendering him unconscious in a matter of seconds.

    Rintarou stood up. "So, what are we gonna do with him now? We could just drag him back to the station and let the others handle him." I shook my head. "We can`t do that. They`ll kill him if we give him up." Rintarou scowled. "Are you kidding me? He almost killed us both. If it wasn`t for your telekinesis, he would have drowned us. How can you feel sorry for him?"

    "It`s not his fault," I protested. "Isaiah`s been brainwashing him. I can sense his aura all over Takumi`s body. Didn`t you see those red eyes? I know of a place we can take him. Follow me."
    We arrived at the Broken Heroes Cafe, the bells hanging from the door jingling as we entered. Thankfully, no one else was in the restaurant. Charlie was organizing plates behind the counter. "Sorry, we`re closed now- wait, Chizuru? What`s going on here? Who is that?" He approached the unconscious Takumi, who hung limply in Rintarou`s arms. "His name is Takumi Tanaka," I explained. "He`s an Esper, and I need you to help me protect him. Can you keep him here for a while?" The bearded redhead squinted. "He in some kind of trouble?"

    "Yeah, he is," Rintarou replied. "He was framed. Look, we just need a place to hide him `til the heat dies down. Can you do that or not?" Charlie paused for a moment. "I...I guess I can help the kid out. Help him get a new identity, disappear, all that stuff. It`s not like I ain`t done it before. But you`re responsible for this, you hear? Last thing I need is some bullcrap coming back to me." Rintarou placed Takumi on the counter. "Don`t worry, no one`s gonna know about this."

    Charlie regarded us with concerned eyes. "This isn`t something cops should be doing, you know. I don`t know what this kid got framed for, but you`re breaking some serious laws here by not turning him in. If your superiors find out about this, you`re good as dead. You know that, right?"

    Charlie was right, but I couldn`t bear to watch Takumi suffer for something he was forced to do against his will. It might have been a huge risk to my career and even my life, but it was a chance I was willing to take. I looked Charlie right in the eye. "I understand. I`ll take responsibility for everything." The redhead`s serious glare remained. "Then it`s on the house, Chizuru."
Arcadia Zero: Chapter Three
In this world, humans live alongside Espers, people who possess incredible psychic abilities as a result of freak genetic mutations. Society has grown to accomodate these individuals, but not everyone is so accepting.

Many Espers are feared for their powers, believing they will eventually come to replace human beings as Earth`s dominant species. The government, on the other hand, fears them as a threat to their own power.

In the city of Houston, a young female Esper working as a police officer becomes entangled in a web of conspiracy as a terrorist organization known as Arcadia rises, bent on using Espers to overthrow the government. Alongside a brutish male Esper with inhuman strength and a short temper, she must uncover the truth behind Arcadia before their actions send humans and Espers into an all-out war.




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Alexandria Francetic
Artist | Hobbyist | Literature
United States
I began writing at a young age, mainly writing Pokémon fan fiction in the beginning of my writing journey. I started writing prose fiction at the age of 15, and have been creating a steady stream of writing ever since. I specialize in science fiction, fantasy, supernatural, post-apocalyptic, and dystopian fiction tinged with a heavy dose of romance and existential angst.

I currently live in the backwoods of East Texas, where I continue busily writing and improving my craft. Anime, manga, and video games are some of my biggest sources of inspiration, especially otome games and visual novels.

When I'm not reading, writing, or researching, I can usually be found either indulging in one of those activities or listening to music. I also love Lolita and J-fashion, cosplaying, and traveling to anime and comic conventions.

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