We rushed to the Medical Ward, but nobody was running faster than Koron.

What's going on?! How is she?!

There was a moment of silence.

Talk, you son of a bitch!

Doctor: Her injuries weren't so bad they should've caused this. I don't... I don't know what happened. It happened suddenly, I—

Don't talk around it! Just—

Doctor: ...The... We found her having caused an explosion with the mineral components of her body. We'd been trying to help her body recuperate in the hopes that she'd wake up, but just as her coma score was improving, her vitals suddenly began to plummet. She's gone.

She's gone.

Doctor: Yes. Sumie Kazuki is dead.

She's dead.

Doctor: ...Yes.

When the rest of us ran in, finding Koron slumped to her knees, still and unmoving on the ground, we hardly had to ask to figure out what had happened.


Explaining all of what happened after that is hard. It was kind of a blur, and it happened so quickly sometimes I can't help but wonder if it was even real. A lot happened, but... what resulted was real. Without a doubt. So, I'll try my best—

Explaining the totality of what occurred from 11:57 A.M. to 1:39 P.M. on September 20th, 2021 would be impossible save for two people. The young lady and the otaku are neither of those two people, and as such, within their telling of the story, the events are incomplete.

—But one of those two people is me. So, to you, I can explain.

Koron Nagataka was unresponsive, and Youka Fudoji had sunk into a quiet haze in the back. Richter Esslinger was lost in complex thought, so when Homura Akaneno came to the dorm of Unit 13, only Chisa Inomiko and Mio Akaneno were cognizant enough to recognize her entry.

"Hey," Homura said. "I, uh, I heard... that, uh..."

"Just go," said Mio, looking up from the end of her bed with a dark glower, her voice low and heavy with disdain. "Leave. Nobody wants you here."

"I just thought—"

"I don't care what you thought," Mio said. "Our friend is dead. You're making it worse. Fuck off."

"...Okay," said Homura, who turned about and shuffled away, her head low. For thirty-seven minutes, this was the only sound that could be found within the room. Mio laid her head down on the bed to attempt to escape the feelings, and Chisa, too, sunk into a quiet gloom.

At 12:20, Youka stood up and declared, "I'm getting a drink."

"I'll join you," Chisa said. So the two left the room.

At 12:37, Richter Essligner finished his thought, and stood up. Koron was still unresponsive, and yet he walked over to her as she sat on the side of her bed. He looked over to see Mio's status—asleep, but not so asleep that she was not, on some level, listening. This was the ideal condition for him at the moment.

"Koron," he said. "Can you hear me?" She did not respond. "I need your help. Will you come with me?"

Koron still did not respond. Richter knelt before her, and put his hands on her shoulders.

"Koron. I need your help. We need to go to the Medical Ward, right now."

Her voice croaked to let out a single word. "What?" Enough awareness returned to her that her glass eyes began again to move.

"Koron," Richter said, "do you trust me?" Koron slowly nodded. "Right now, more than ever, I need that trust to be absolute. Believe in me, Koron. And... believe in Sumie."

At 12:39, Richter Esslinger and Koron Nagataka left the room.


Mio Akaneno stirred, rubbing her eyes. Floating in and out of consciousness, she'd heard bits of a conversation between Richter and Koron. 'Believe in me. Believe in Sumie.' What was he talking about?

Mio left the room to see Richter. "Hey, uh..." Mio started. "Where... where are you going? Where's Koron?"

Richter had been walking slowly, having sent Koron forward specifically to allow Mio time to wake up. He did not turn to face her. "Mio. Do you believe in me?"

"Huh? Yeah," Mio said.

"Then trust in me," Richter said. "We'll be back soon."

Richter headed for the elevators, and Mio was left standing, stunned.

Koron headed first to the Medical Ward. Her cargo was still on a stretcher, nobody having been able to process what to do about the death of a member of Unit 13. When Sumie's body was requested by her significant other, nobody had the strength to deny her.

Sumie's face was contorted. In fear? Pain? Had she felt it, when she died? Koron couldn't help but wonder.

"Sumie," Koron muttered as she pushed her along, "why? Why did SATSUKI do that? She couldn't have meant to kill you. Could she? Why are you leaving me? You told me none of us would die. You told me I wouldn't die, and yet you're leaving me now? ...No. You're not leaving me."

Richter was waiting, and took the stretcher from Koron when she arrived on the Research Ward. He had just requested the staff in the room that was their goal leave, and while it took some work, he had managed to convince them to give him just an hour.

"Thank you," Richter said. "Now, let's go."

Richter led Koron to the room for research of the Lucier—where now the Lucier Marina called home, though she too had left the room at his request.

Richter did not intuitively know how to manage the room's terminal, but using his Gauntlet, he quickly came to understand it. The frontmost stasis tube for the Lucier was currently empty, so he opened it. "Please disrobe her," Richter said. "It would be improper for me to do so."

Sumie had only just perished, so rigor mortis had yet to set in. Koron did not have much problem—even in a situation like this, she had become rather practiced at disrobing her lover. Together, Richter and Koron moved Sumie's limp body into the tube, and Richter shut it. The tube began to fill with its stasis fluids, and Sumie began to float. Heavy lacerations, still not healed, covered her arms and torso from where the metal content of her body had been made to detonate.

Standing before the terminal with his Gauntlet glowing blue, Richter turned to Koron, who was staring at Sumie, and said, "Koron. You aren't a telepath of any stripe, but you have more presence in the infophysical realm than I do. You can create zones of internal logic in the real world—you're most likely the most powerful psychic in terms of raw force in the world. I need your help. As I work, I need you to focus on Sumie—not her body, but her presence, her consciousness. Reach out to her, keep her in your mind. Take hold of her and do not let her go."

"And... what?" Koron asked. Tears were beginning to form.

"From there, trust me," Richter said. "Believe in me, for as long as I work."

Mio spent some time stewing over what had just happened. What was Richter doing? What did he need Koron for? Was it her place to interfere? He had said to trust him, and she did, without a doubt. Should she wait for him?

—What was he doing? What did he seem so intense about?

As Mio thought and thought and thought, she continued coming to one simple, obvious, completely insane idea. Obviously, he wouldn't be doing that. Would he? That was impossible. But... 'believe in me'. Richter had done the impossible time and time again. He did things with YUUHI that, by all measure, should've been impossible. Mio herself did the impossible frequently. And he'd had quite a few thoughts during their sortie this morning.

Had he... realized something? Was it possible?

No, it couldn't have been. But Richter... well, he was smarter than her. Had he—was it possible—

Was Richter trying to bring Sumie back from the dead? Had Richter found some way to bring the dead back to life? Not in some twisted form, like the Imperial Dragon of Yotsuya, but really, truly, bring a dead person back to life?

It was impossible. It was absurd on the face of it. But Mio could think nothing else—nothing else made sense for how he was acting. It was the only explanation. Richter was, somehow, attempting to bring Sumie back to life. And if anyone could do it—

No, it was impossible! That was impossible! You couldn't bring the dead back to life! Mio tried to convince herself of that again and again, no, no, that's simply impossible!

But she couldn't. She couldn't convince herself of that. She believed in Richter.

At 1:26, Mio finally left her room, her heart racing, terrified. Youka and Chisa were at the bar in their dorms, Youka already through two drinks, Chisa through barely a sip of hers. "G-guys," she said, "I need—come on."

"He's what?!" Chisa exclaimed, once Mio explained her theory. "But that's impossible!"

"Is it?" Youka said, in the elevator. "For us, maybe, but for Richter... I donno."

"We need to go see," Mio said. She shook her head. "We need to see. We need to see what's happening."

And then, there was a segment of the story that did not take place on Earth. No, it did not take place in any physical location. And yet, it certainly did happen.

A young girl found herself conscious once more. Around her was an expanse of white nothing—in truth there was nothing around her at all, but her mind conceptualized it as this expanse where she stood. And stand she did, atop a ground that only existed because she did.

"Hey, c'mon, where do you think you're going?"

In front of her was another girl, leaning over and chiding her with a little huff.

—For seven years, these two had been together, and yet this was also the first time they had stood face to face. Sumie Kazuki, woman of Earth, faced SATSUKI, the Royal Historian of the Lucier.

Through seeing Satsuki—her hair a vivid green, her form wrapped in their parkouring outfit—Sumie understood her own image, her frizzled, dark hair, her glasses, clothes worn in a desperate attempt to hide her figure. Some part of her missed that expression of her self, as messy and disheveled as it was. She had wished, once or twice amidst the nights of the year they'd spent together, that she might go back to something like that, so that the woman she loved could tell her that that, too, was beautiful.

"S-SATSUKI..." Sumie choked out, tears beginning to come to her eyes and fog up her glasses. "I-I... I don't..."

"There are people waiting for you, Sumie," SATSUKI said, putting her hands on Sumie's shoulders, and in that moment, this white expanse changed. The floor became reflective with the slightest ripples, and around them, a field of trees, raining dazzling white petals, sprung up from that reflective ground. Behind SATSUKI, there was a door. Behind Sumie, a second.

"But I..." Sumie's voice hitched and hiccuped. "I'm scared. I'm scared! How could you just leave me like that?!" Sumie's head lurched up to yell at SATSUKI. "You can't just leave me! I can't do it without you! I can't do this without you! I can't! I'm not a hero, I'm just a kid!"

"Sumie... come on," SATSUKI said. "You know that's not how it works. Everything I am, it's in you too. I only got to be a person because I had you. You're so much stronger than you realize." The look on SATSUKI's face was uncharacteristically somber. "I mean... I'm sad. I don't want to leave, either. But I wanted to protect you, and everyone else."

"SATSUKI! SATSUKI!" Sumie reached forward and wrapped her other self in a hug.

"I've existed as long as the Lucier have," SATSUKI said, "and... maybe one day I'll be back, too. Maybe we'll meet again. But, Sumie... you are the one writing the new future of the Lucier. Okay? There are people waiting for you. Unit 13, Marina, the rest of those Lucier kids... You have a big family you need to go back to. And you're strong. You'll make it through with them. I believe in you."

A few more sniffles, and sobs, and tears. Then... "...You really think so?"

"Of course I do! I'm the beautiful SATSUKI! Am I ever wrong?" SATSUKI said with a wink.

"I... I don't wanna die," Sumie said. "I wanna go back. I don't want to die! I want to go back!"

There was a loud knocking on the door behind Sumie.

"Alright," SATSUKI said, "time's up. Looks like those two are about ready to have you." The two broke the embrace, but SATSUKI pet Sumie on the head. "It's your future, Sumie. You won't have me anymore to take the wheel, but I know you can do it. I know you can."

"One last thing?" Sumie said with a sniffle.

"Name it."

"Do that stupid face again," Sumie said, with a smile on her face through the tears.

"Oh, you mean..."

"...thiiiis stupid face?!"

With tears still lingering in her eyes, Sumie Kazuki laughed a loud, heartfelt, joyful laugh. "Yeah! Just like that! And you better do it again if we ever see each other again!"

And the door behind Sumie opened—


At 1:35, the frontmost stasis tank in the Lucier research room of the Research Ward drained its stasis fluid and opened once again. A girl's body slumped to the ground, still slick—but she was caught in the arms of someone much smaller, and supported somewhat on the base of the tube.

"...mmmuh?" The girl's eyes slowly opened. Her ears, sitting atop her head, twitched. "What's... did we take care of the Bloom?"

One of the two people there to greet her cut the connection to the terminal and let his whole body slump onto it. With a half-delirious laugh, Richter Esslinger looked up and said,

"Hahaha! Yes. Yes, we did, Sumie. No... no need to... worry..."

Then his body slid to the floor, and Richter passed out.

"You stupid... stupid idiot!" Koron barked at Sumie. "What the hell?! I can't believe you'd make me worry like that, you..."

Sumie slowly reached up, and stroked Koron's cheek. "Hey... have you been crying? Aww, I don't like it when you cry."

This only redoubled Koron's tears, and with a gasp of, "Sumie!" she leaned down to wrap her in the tightest embrace she could muster.

At 1:39, the door to the room opened again, and Chisa, Mio, and Youka ran into the room. They first saw Richter passed out on the ground, and then saw the embrace by the side of the tube.

Aside from Koron's sobs, there was a moment of silence as they stepped forward into the room. Then, the young Lucier on the ground's ears twitched, and she looked up. "Oh, uh, hi, guys."

"Stupid! Stupid!" Koron choked out. "I love you, you idiot! Never leave me like that again! I'll kill you if you do!"

Youka was the first to speak. "What... what the hell?"

And then, just a moment later—Chisa began, too, to cry. Mio, though, started to laugh. She bent over with peals of laughter, enough to be quite painful, as tears rolled down her eyes.

As Chisa cried and Mio cackled, Youka went over to join Koron in embracing Sumie. This was not the tightest embrace Youka could muster, but it was the best she could do without doing harm. "Screw you, you little brat!" Youka said, sniffling. "I mean, where do you get off?!"

"I mean, it's not like... uh, what day is it?" Sumie mumbled.

Of course, shortly after, someone would notice the commotion. People would run into the room. But the six of them could share just this moment—with not sorrow or grief, but a genuine miracle.

(Incidentally, when people did come to the room, Richter stirred when Homura grabbed him by the shoulders and yelled, "Hey, you, what's going on here?!"

He replied, "That's And Richter to you, Ms. Akaneno.")

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