Cutscene: Separation Anxiety

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The sublime, gentle face of Miwa Saitou was the last thing she saw before the nightmare came calling.

For the life of her, she couldn't recall what happened; the misty traces of the past yielding to the horrific realities of the present. At one moment she was in a boutique, indulging in the rare sight of seeing two girls her age speaking to one another candidly about clothing choices. While Tohya appeared insurmountably embarrassed, she managed to find a coat that she might even like. Pale glimpses of a smile hinted at the corners of her mouth now and then, all the while Miwa engaged all of them actively in conversation, ensuring that no one was too awkward, that everyone felt included, almost especially an interloper such as herself. She didn't know them well, their acquaintanceship between one another was rather new, but she would most certainly like to, if given the chance....if her side of the world could afford to spare her.

There was a bitter sense of irony involved, while her contemplations then leaned more towards how she missed this, how lonely the past three years have been -- so much so that the every day chatter of two seemingly disparate girls was enough to make her smile -- she suddenly found herself alone again.

In Hell.

If Naomi ever thought about the Abyss, and such thoughts were rare and fleeting (and they had to be, in order to keep her promise to herself to make living a priority and save the thoughts of dying for later), this was what it would look like. Exactly like this; a twisted incarnation of the world she knew before, stygian shades of otherworldly entities lurking in the corners and unearthly sounds taking the most inopportune times to catch her unawares. The air felt oppressive, almost toxic to her addled, but hypersensitive senses; adrenaline had started pouring into her bloodstream the moment she realized she was alone and not in the place she should. Her heart hammered within her ribcage, the frenzied staccato beats doing its best to burst out of her and escape. For the moment, however, she remained where she was, shocked into stillness and feeling an icy sensation stroke down the back of her neck and dribbling freezing spines down her back.

Where was she?

The moment she saw something move, she darted away from the main boulevard, skittering past shattered debris and doing her best to find a place where she wasn't out in the open. The gutteral sound of beings... things...communicating with one another assailed her ears and accorded no comfort. She was almost afraid that they could hear her heart from where she was hidden.

It was that sordid epiphany that spurred her to move. Climbing up on a dumpster carefully, she hauled herself over the edge of the alley's dead end wall and vanished behind it. No matter how delicate her appearance, travels to exotic locations and what she normally did to pass the time and clear her head gave her a certain degree of athleticism that belied any vestige of fragility she possessed. Her spine slid against the adjacent wall, clamping her teeth together to keep herself from making any noise.

Through the haze of tempered fright, she wondered where her companions were. Were they together? Worse, alone? The thought of them apart, with so many of this place's interesting fauna crawling about, forced goosebumps to riddle her flesh.

She had to find them, and then, they would find a way to get out of this place.


Determination; her signature, insatiate will to solve every intimidating problem that came her way, fueled her move forward, amethystine gaze narrowed and her jaw set. She had schoolmates to find, a father to cure, a conglomerate to keep under control and vituperative, conniving relatives to hold at bay. She refused to be trapped here.

The sudden, irrational spiral of anger, blooming from the pit of her stomach and surging upwards to her neck and flushing her ivory complexion, only fueled her resolve. As a prowling demon suddenly jumped from the opposite rooftop to land in front of her, she wasted little thought. Long, tapered digits swiped the metallic cover of the trash can nearest her, using it as a shield as claws and teeth leapt at her from where it was crouched. Her free palm pressed hard into the gray-steel space she held up, struggling against a much stronger and certainly hungrier foe.

Ma'at, always in tune to her desires and demands, manifested by arching electricity along her forearm and into her flattened palm. Current blazed across conductive molecules, thickening the air with the scent of ozone as it was discharged through and around the cover. The large, improvised defibrulator sent the demon flying away from her, crashing hard in a nearby pile of filth and refuse and remained there, smoking.

She tossed the flat, circular article away, breathing raggedly and feeling her hand twitch in a spasmodic fashion, riding out the sharpened tingles climbing up and down her arm.

You cannot linger here, oucwni.

The voice, while quiet, rang clearly in the depths of her subconscious. At the mental cue, she spun on her heel and kept running.

I know. I have people to find.

I mean this place. The whole of it. You cannot stay here for long. It will consume you...the wrongness of it will, if you are not careful. You have not been acclimated. You have not done this before.

Naomi skidded to a stop, suddenly hearing something abnormal. Sinking down on her heels and huddling into the corner of a wall, she dug into her purse to produce a mirror. Gradually, slowly, she slipped the edge of it out of her hiding place, her eyes falling upon the reflective surface to gauge what was around the bend before it could even see her.

I'll endure it.

You may encounter truths you are not prepared to handle.

I've little choice in the matter. I trust that I'll encounter them regardless depending on how long it takes for me to find my classmates and find a way to leave this godforsaken place.

Are you not afraid?

She hesitated at that. By all rights, it was a legitimate question.

Yes. But don't worry for me. It won't get in the way.

The silence that punctuated her reply gave her leave to conclude that the entity that shared her body was satisfied. Glancing at the mirror in her hand, she slipped it back in her purse. After finding her feet, the second-year took a deep breath and stepped out into the open.

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