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[IC][Story][Arc 1] Learning to Be Yourself
[IC][Story][Arc 1] Learning to Be Yourself
Ottawa, ON, Canada
January 17, 2017
10:17 AM

Mayumi Osaka looked up as the front door's chime rang, to see a nervous young woman walk into her shop. "May I help you, miss?"

"Well, I was hoping I would be able to help you. I'm looking for a job."

"I see." While she could use some help around the shop, she wasn't about to hire just anybody. The last thing she needed was to wake up in the basement, tied up and gagged, hearing somebody in the shop pretending to be her. Again. But she had to take a chance if she was ever going to hire anybody to work in the shop. "Do you have a resume, miss ...?"

"Hanyu. Mimi Hanyu. I'm sorry, but I don't have a resume to show you. And I don't have any previous experience in retail, either."

Mayumi frowned. "But you still think that you can work in a jewellery shop. Miss Hanyu, I have to wonder whether, as they say here, you were born yesterday."

"Would you believe I was born four days ago?"

She almost replied in the negative, but she realized that Ms. Hanyu was being completely serious. Either she was deluded, or she was involved in the weirdness that had started to overwhelm her life; either way, Mayumi wondered whether she should just ask this woman to leave now. Then she realized that her thoughts were showing on her face - and that Ms. Hanyu had read her expression.

"Please, Ms. Osaka, please give me a chance! I don't have a diploma, I don't have any relevant experience, I don't even have a resume because I've never worked for a wage. All I have is a couple of character references, who both suggested that I talk to you first."

"Ms. Hanyu, I'll be honest with you. From how you just described yourself, you are unemployable at any job more complicated than flipping hamburgers at a fast-food restaurant." But then she realized that Ms. Hanyu had addressed her by name, which she hadn't mentioned. "How did you know my name?"

"My character references - Rob Donaldson and Usagi Tsukino - suggested that I talk to you first. I can give you their telephone numbers, if you want to call them and ask about me. You are Mayumi Osaka, aren't you?"

Mayumi did her best to not let her amazement show. Ms. Hanyu probably wasn't deluded about having been born four days ago... but that meant she was involved with the weirdness that had seeped into her life. However, she had said that Usagi-chan was willing to vouch for her. Pulling out her cellphone, she replied, "There's no need for that; I have both of their numbers on speed dial." She almost tapped Usagi's speed dial button before remembering that she was in class, along with her daughter Naru. She tapped Mr. Donaldson's speed dial number instead. After a moment, the call connected. "Hello, Mr. Donaldson. This is Mayumi Osaka calling. ... You were? If you were expecting my call, then you probably also know why I'm calling. ... Yes, Ms. Hanyu is standing in front of me right now. ... Ah. I'll apologize to her after we finish our conversation." She winked at the other woman in the room, who smiled. "Is there anything important that I need to know about her? ... Yes, that is important. Can I assume that anybody who knows Tsukino-chan is Sailor Moon is trustworthy?" It was her turn to smile, as she saw Ms. Hanyu - Mimi - raise her eyebrows in surprise. "Oh. Well, I trust you; you've always told me the truth. ... No, I'll let her tell you. Thank you for your time, Mr. Donaldson." And, after giving him a chance to end the call, she ended it for him. Then she looked straight at Mimi. "Mr. Donaldson tells me that in this country it's extremely unusual to check somebody's references while the person is in the same room. I apologize for being rude, even unknowingly."

"Oh, that's all right. Think nothing of it," Mimi replied.

"He also tells me that you're from the same universe as Ms. Tsukino... so we have that in common." She smiled. "When can you start?"

Mimi's grin lit up the room. "Right now!"

Mayumi shook her head. "No, that's too soon. I have to draw up an employment contract for you to read and sign. Can you come back at 10 am tomorrow?"

"I'll be here! And thank you so much for being willing to take a chance on somebody like me."

"Well, we - what did Mr. Donaldson call us? Oh, yes - we displacees need to stick together. And now I have to figure out how to teach you the basics of retail - unless that's what you learned in school."

Mimi shook her head. "No, I'm hoping to go back to school starting next semester. I was a dramatic arts major back in Tokyo."

With that, Mayumi realized that Mimi's expressions throughout the impromptu job interview might not have been authentic. But if Mimi could play her emotions that way, then she could do the same with customers' emotions - and flatter them into buying more, and more expensive, jewellery without saying a word. What were the ethics of that?

"Is something wrong?"

"What? No, I was just thinking about what to teach you to do, and not do. Oh, we should make this formal." She extended her hand. "I'm Mayumi Osaka, the owner of the OSA-P jewellery shop. Welcome to the OSA-P family."

Mimi took her hand and shook it. "I'm Mimi Hanyu. Please take care of me."

OSA-P, Ottawa, ON, Canada
January 20, 2017
5:05 PM

It was quiet in the shop, so the two girls in the front room were chatting with each other while cleaning the glass display cases.

"You have a sister?"

Naru looked surprised at Mimi's question. "That's right. Why do you ask?"

"Tsukino-san said that you were an only child."

Naru's expression went from surprise to puzzlement. "Usagi's met Naruru. Why would she think I don't have a sister?"

Mimi thought for a moment, then replied, "I have no idea." Then she noticed a light blinking beside the cash register - discreet notice that the device Uriharu-san and somebody called "Washuu-chan" installed earlier that week had detected somebody approaching the front door. She quickly wiped dry the glass case in front of her and stepped behind the cash, squatting down to put her cloth and glass cleaner on the shelf below the till. Thus, she was hidden behind the counter when the door opened.

"Welcome to ... Oh, no."

That wasn't a good sign. Mimi stayed hidden.

"That's right. Just keep your hands where we can see them, cutie. We're taking everything you've got on display."

Naru's voice was shaking. "Please don't hurt me. Either of you. Please!"

So there were two of them. Mimi grinned... not noticing that she was grinning.

"Just do what we say, girl. Get the cash while she gets the necklaces out of there."

Mimi heard somebody grunt as he approached the counter she was hiding behind. No choice now. Do or die. She stood up, seeing just where the two thieves were. She pointed at both of them at the same time.

"Charm Buster!"

Bolts of black energy shot from her hands to their heads.

Both men stood transfixed for a moment, then slumped to the floor.

Mimi looked at her hands. "Did I just ... did I do that?"

Naru looked at Mimi in horror. "You're ... you're Mimete!" Then she saw the look on Mimi's face, and her fear was instantly replaced with concern. "What's wrong?"

Mimi looked at Naru, tears in her eyes. "Call Tsukino-san... please... I need her help..."

Blossom Apartments, Ottawa, ON, Canada
January 20, 2017
5:09 PM

The Good Neighbour System sounded an alarm. Of the three people in the room, Usagi was the closest to the display. She read the message, transformed to Sailor Moon, grabbed Rob (who had walked over to read the alert), and teleported out.

Ruiko - the only other person in the common room - looked up from reading the owner's manual that had come with her Christmas present. I guess I should let Mako-chan know they've left, she thought as she stood up and headed for the kitchen.

OSA-P, Ottawa, ON, Canada
January 20, 2017
5:10 PM

There was a flash in the middle of the store, and suddenly two more people were in the room. "I cannot stand by and watch while evil is taking place! In the name of ..." Sailor Moon realized that the only attackers present were already unconscious.

Rob cleared his throat. "What have we told you about monologues?"

"Ah-heh... After the fight?"

"Right." He turned to the others. "What happened?"

Mimi answered first. "They came in and tried to rob the store, and I ... I ... cast a spell at them."

"You didn't tell me you're a Witch!"

Mimi turned to Naru, tears still in her eyes. "I thought I wasn't a Witch any more! Please believe me!"

"And I did tell your mother that Ms. Hanyu used to be possessed, Ms. Osaka," Rob added. "I'm sorry; I should have told you as well."

"'Used to be'. So she shouldn't be able to cast spells! Should she?"

"I didn't know that I could still cast a Charm Buster!"

Rob quickly jumped in front of Naru, taking the blast himself. As he dropped to the floor, he muttered, "Pretty birdie, big black birdie, wants to eat my heart..." Then he lost consciousness.

Everybody stared at him, Mimi, or both of them. As Naru moved to put Sailor Moon between herself and Mimi, Usagi commented, "Okay, that just happened. Now what?"

"Maybe you should wake him up?"

"Oh, right. Moon Healing Escalation!" The room was suddenly filled with golden light, and Rob opened his eyes. "Ow."

The two attempted thieves groaned as they also regained consciousness... and Mimi grabbed them both and tossed them out the front door. Then she looked at her hands again. "How did I do that?"

As he stood up, Rob replied, "I'm guessing you gave yourself a magical strength boost somehow. Ms. Hanyu, please don't say the phrase 'Charm Buster' again."

"Yeah. Right."

"Thank you. Now, did you use the magic, or did the magic use you?"

The more Mimi thought about her answer, the more frightened she looked. Finally, she replied, "I think it used me."

Rob grimaced. "I was afraid of that. I think you need to learn how to use the magic that you have, so that it doesn't use you instead." Hearing the door to the back room open, he turned to see Mayumi walking in. "Ah, Ms. Osaka. Do you mind if Mimi takes some time off, once we find her a teacher?"

"Hey!" Everybody turned to look at Mimi. "Stop trying to decide my life for me! I can't take time off right now, I need the money to buy food and pay rent. And I need something normal in my life."

Rob raised one eyebrow in amusement. "And who collects the rent from you? I can cover your food bills for a few weeks."

"It takes years to learn magic."

"And I need somebody staffing the counter," Mayumi added.

"Mama, she's Mimete of the Witches 5."

"Not any more, I'm not! Why won't people believe me when I say that?" The tears finally started flowing down her cheeks.

"You cast two Charm Busters in five minutes."

Mayumi turned to her daughter. "She what?"

Usagi quickly stepped between the elder and younger Osakas. "We should tell this as a single story, and I think the only person here who knows it all is Mimi..."

Rob cleared his throat. "If you'll excuse me for a moment, I'll make a couple of calls while you're explaining things. We need to let Mako-chan know we're going to miss supper, and somebody needs to call Los Angeles."

At that, Mimi went for her own phone. "I should be the one to call L.A."

Rob nodded. "We both will - you call her, then I'll call her landlord."

to be continued...
Rob Kelk

Sticks and stones can break your bones,
But words can break your heart.
- unknown
RE: [IC][Story][Arc 1] Learning to Be Yourself
(08-22-2020, 11:59 AM)robkelk Wrote: There was a flash in the middle of the store, and suddenly two more people were in the room. "I cannot stand by and watch while evil is taking place! In the name of ..." Sailor Moon realized that the only attackers present were already unconscious.

Rob cleared his throat. "What have we told you about monologues?"

"Ah-heh... After the fight?"

"Kitto daijoubu da yo." - Sakura Kinomoto
RE: [IC][Story][Arc 1] Learning to Be Yourself
OSA-P, Ottawa, ON, Canada
January 20, 2017
6:55 PM

"That's ... quite the story," Mayumi finally said.

"I don't know if I believe it," added Naru. "You're only one week old, and there's two of you?"

"If this were play'd upon a stage now, I would condemn it as improbable fiction."

"Who said that?" Usagi asked.

"Mimi did." Usagi shot a dirty look Rob's way. "If you studied English more, you'd know she was quoting a play by Shakespeare."

"I know of Shakespeare, but he didn't write The Tale of Genji, did he?"

Rob chuckled. "Point taken."

"How can you two make jokes right now?" Naru asked, astonished at her best friend's actions.

Usagi smiled slightly, and almost sadly. "We're used to strange things happening to us."

"True," Rob replied, "but the jokes don't help Mimi, do they?"

"You made the first one," muttered Usagi.

"Another point taken." He turned to look directly at Mimi. "In all seriousness, the longer you wait to get your abilities under control, the harder it will be to get them under control, I think. And definitely there'll be a larger chance that you might hurt somebody the longer your power isn't under your control."

Mimi thought for a moment. "You're right. But I just started work here."

"The first few weeks after Christmas are busy, but then business drops off. It's a quiet time in retail right now," Mayumi pointed out. "Give it another week and we'll start getting the Valentine's Day customers in, but we're quiet right now. I can let you work half of next week, then after Valentine's Day you can work half-weeks for a few months."

"Valentine's Day? Not White Day?"

Rob shook his head. "White Day isn't a thing in North America. Valentine's Day is the big romantic day; I expect OSA-P will be selling more engagement rings than usual in the first two weeks of February."

"And then taking some of those rings back the week after," added Mayumi. "Hopefully, not too many."

Rob nodded in understanding as he turned to Mimi. "Since you're only going to be working part-time, I'll keep your rent low. You'll be on the student rate, like Mii-san and Ami-san."

"Thank you," Mimi whispered.

"But in exchange, you have to be a student for the half-weeks that you aren't working. And that means we need to find you a teacher."

"Maybe Rhodes-san might be able to teach me..."

Rob caught the subtext and did what he could to nip it in the bud. "Maybe one of the girls who's sweet on him might. Or he might know of somebody else. But why not ask around the apartment when you get home tonight, before asking somebody from out of town for help?"

Mimi thought about that and didn't reply immediately. But she resolved to call San Antonio as soon as she was home.

And in the back room, two black birds watched intently and kept quiet. Now was not the right time. But soon, they resolved, soon.

Blossom Apartments, Ottawa, ON, Canada
January 20, 2017
7:17 PM

Makoto had saved dinner for Usagi and Rob, which they were eating while discussing what had just happened. "Rob, what did you mean by what you said when you collapsed?"

He looked confused at Usagi's question. "I don't remember saying anything after I took the Charm Buster aimed at Naru, until you brought me around again. What did I say?"

"Something about a big black bird that wanted to eat your heart."

He thought for a moment. "I have no idea why I'd say that."

Blossom Apartments, Ottawa, ON, Canada / Westwoods Apartments, San Antonio, TX, USA
January 20, 2017
9:24 PM ET / 8:24 PM CT

O brave new world, that has such people in't Mimi thought as she looked at Ben on her computer screen. And that has such devices in it, too, she added while looking at the flat-screen monitor with the built-in camera - easily two decades in advance of the systems she was used to - while she told Ben what had happened earlier that day.

"... and then Donaldson-san - Mr. Donaldson - suggested I find somebody to ask about this. And, well, I thought of you, and that offer you made while we were skating together."

Ben didn't expect Mimi to take him up on his offer in this way, but who knew what life threw people's way? And he knew she needed a friend right now. "Alright, Mimi.  This isn't going to be an interrogation," he said gently, entering that 'Loving Older Brother' mode that he seemed to be so good at.  "You know I'm not here to hurt you, okay?"

Mimi nodded quietly at that.

"Good.  Now, just think back to the moment right before you used your magic.  What was on your mind just then?  What were you thinking?"

She thought for a quick moment. "The first time?" He nodded. "There was a threat, and I had to do something or Naru-san would get hurt. Or worse."

Ben nodded before saying, "I thought as much.  Mimi, you don't need to be afraid of yourself.  What you did was a very natural reaction.  The Witch, Mimete, is gone now.  All there is left is Mimi Hanyu.  Granted, in a sense, you're back to square one, right before you became one of the Witches Five, which means the darkness inside of you that was used against you is still there. But this is fine.  What is really important is what you choose to do.  You chose to stop two armed robbers who may have hurt poor Naru-chan, and no more than that.  You did it without leaving any lasting harm."

The tears started to well up in Mimi's eyes again. "But if I have that Darkness inside of me...  And I do - the second time, I was upset that Naru-san wasn't believing what I was saying... What do I do!?  I don't want to let it take over again!"

"You won't," said Ben in a blunt, but not unkind manner.  "You have friends now - actual friends that care about you.  They miiiiiight care a little too much, but that's just fear doing its thing - which is its own kind of darkness. You see, that's the thing, Mimi.  There is darkness in all things.  It's unavoidable because true purity is impossible."  He then rolled his eyes and said, as an aside, "Really, I had this discussion before with Sakura and Shaorin a little while ago - maybe I ought to start a class or something."  Despite herself, Mimi giggled at how Ben said that in such a self-deprecating manner.

Ben smiled and then went on, "But of course, that's no excuse to simply allow yourself to succumb.  Instead, what you need to do is meditate on this.  And I mean that literally.  Do whatever it is that sets your mind at ease and relaxes you enough that you can let your mind wander.  Dwell on the negative things in your life with the aim of understanding what it is about them that makes them negative.  Think about the things that make you have thoughts that you know are bad.  Come to understand yourself.

"Keep in mind, this isn't to purge evil from your soul or anything as silly as that.  These are things that are a part of you, and that you will never really understand until you come to accept them as being part of you.  Learn who Mimi Hanyu really is.  Once you do that, everything becomes so much easier to understand.  By knowing what fuels your ostensibly evil thoughts, you can disarm them with rationality and logic.  What's more, you may even discover what it is that you truly want that gives rise to these thoughts.  And believe me, knowing what you want?  That's something not very many people understand about themselves."

Mimi eyed Ben curiously at that.  "What about you?  What do you want?"

"Family," he said.  "The chance to prove that I am nothing at all like my step-father.  That I am not what he said I was.  That my true nature can be a path of success, even if it takes a while.  But most of all?  Just family.  Because having someone in my life who thinks that I am worthwhile enough for that?  That will go a long ways towards vindicating myself."

"Jeeeeze.  I am so envious of those two!"

Ben chuckled, knowing exactly what she was talking about.  "Give it time, Mimi.  Later on, we'll probably both be a lot healthier, and then we can decide if we want a deeper relationship or not."

Blossom Apartments, Ottawa, ON, Canada
January 21, 2017
8:19 AM

As the ending credits of the first episode of the second season of A Certain Magical Index began to play, Touma pressed the "eject" button on the DVD player.

Mimi looked slightly ill. "Did he survive?"

"Yeah, we got him to a hospital in time," Touma replied as he put the disc back in its case.

Index nodded. "He knew what he was doing, he took all the precautions he could, and he still ended up like that after using only one of the Librorum Prohibitorum. Do you still want to learn the 103,000 Librorum Prohibitorum that I memorized?"

After a moment, Mimi shook her head. "Not if that's the price I'd have to pay. That price is too high. How do you cope with knowing all of those grimoires?"

"I never use them. Ever."

"Want to get breakfast?"

Mimi looked at Touma as if he'd grown a second head. "I think I lost my appetite. Besides, I have to go to work now." If only to have an excuse to not have to watch more of that show, she added to herself. But it explains a lot about Touma and Index.

It wasn't until she was at the door to OSA-P that she realized "Index" wasn't her neighbour's name; it was her job description. Mimi resolved to apologize the next time she saw Index... or whatever her name really is.

The Jack's Tower, Ottawa, ON, Canada
January 21, 2017
2:25 PM

"Is this really a tower?" Mimi asked as she looked at the three-storey building nestled amongst other three-storey buildings facing Brewer Park, a few hundred yards from Carleton University.

Mii smiled. "It's a magic thing. Have you ever read a book called 'The Last Continent'?"

"I've never heard of it," Mimi replied as Mii rang the doorbell.

After a quick moment, the door opened to reveal Kate Crackernuts, obviously happy to have visitors. "Mii! Hello! Come in! And who's your friend?"

"This is Mimi Hanyu. Mimi, this is Kate, the wise-woman of the local faerie society."

"I'm happy to meet you, Mimi," Kate said as she took and shook Mimi's hand - much to Mimi's surprise. "Jacky isn't here right now," she added to Mii. "The troll that lives under the bridge across the Rideau Canal near Parliament Hill asked her to take a look at something."

Mii nodded. "Jacky's always busy now; we never see her any more. We came to see you today, Kate."

Kate's smile lit up the room. "Oh! Come on in! I'll make some tea."

"Can we have it in the tower?"

Kate's eyebrow went up. She looked at Mimi, then asked, "What has she told you?"

"About the tower? Nothing."

Kate thought for a moment, then replied, "I'll make the tea, then we can take it up to the tower together. Go pick a cup and saucer from the china cabinet." She gestured to a large cabinet in the dining room visible down the hall.

A few minutes later, Mimi still hadn't chosen a cup. "These are all so pretty, I don't think it would be right to drink out of them."

"Rob-san said that they're here to be used, not to be admired from a distance." Seeing Mimi's puzzled look, Mii added, "Kate's original collection of teacups was destroyed by some slaugh a while ago, out of sheer petty malice. These used to belong to Rob's mother, before she passed away a few years ago. They'd just been sitting in storage before he gave them to Kate and Jacky."

"He says he sold them to me," Kate added from the dining room's doorway. "But he only asked me to pay one dollar for them. Which one do you want to use today?" Kate put the tray holding the teapot, a small bowl filled with slices of lemon, and a plate of shortbreads down on the dining room table, walked over to the china cabinet, and chose a cup and saucer with a pink rose pattern for herself. Mii chose a set with a daffodil pattern, and Mimi, after a moment, chose a plain cup and saucer with gold trim. They all put their cups on the tray, then Kate picked it up and lead the way to the stairs.

"I love the view from the tower," Kate said as she climbed the stairs. "But Mii tells me that she doesn't see it."

"I'm an esper, not a mage, remember? All I see out the window is Brewer Park and the Rideau River."

Kate sighed softly. "And that's a shame. You can't even take in the view. Well, here we are," she said while standing in front of a plain door at the top of the stairs. "Mimi, would you be kind enough to open the door for me, please?"

"Certainly," she answered as she did just that - then gasped at the view out the large windows of the small room behind the door.

Kate grinned. "Do you like it?"

"It's like I'm at the top of the Tokyo Tower! I can see the entire city!" She turned around to see more of the city through windows that she was certain she hadn't seen while looking at the building from the outside.

"Lucky you," Mii muttered... but there was a smile on her face.

Kate put the tray down on the only table in the room, nudging a few books to one side as she did so. "Should I get some chairs?"

"Not for me," Mimi replied as she continued to look out the window.

"I'll stand, too," Mii added.

Kate and Mimi enjoyed their tea as they got to know each other. Finally, Kate said, "If this was just a social call, Mii wouldn't have suggested having tea in the tower. What can the local Wise Woman do for you?" Mimi could hear the capital letters as Kate pronounced them.

"Well, I have a problem with magic."

"What sort?"

"I can't control it. And I don't know enough magic to be able to do anything other than attack people."

Kate frowned. "You're a mage?"

"Yes, and thank you for not calling me a witch."

"I hate to disappoint you, but you probably know more magic than I do, Mimi. All I know is how to use some of the magical items that the last mage of the tower left behind before he passed."


Mii sighed. "I thought for sure you'd be able to help us, Kate."

"I'm sorry. But I can help Mimi in other ways, since she can actually see the view from the tower."

Both of Kate's guests looked surprised at that. "What sort of ways?" Mimi asked.

"It's easier to show you than to tell you." And she spent a quarter hour showing off some of the magical items, including her very smart (and jealous) book that answered questions that Kate asked it, the answers appearing in its pages. "I won't ask you the same questions I've already asked, because there are only so many pages bound between your spines," Kate said to the book. "Right now, I'll only open you and show the answers that you've already given me to my new acquaintance, Mimi." And Kate did so, revealing that there wasn't a teacher of magic to be found anywhere within a hundred kilometers of the Tower.

At that point, Mii cleared her throat. "I have to go; I have a class soon, and we didn't bring the car."

"I'll see you later, then! Mimi, do you want to stay and talk some more?"

Mimi shook her head. "I'd love to, but I really should keep looking for a magic teacher. The spells that I know but can't fully control could hurt people. I'd love to come visit again, though, if I may."

"Any friend of Mii's is a friend of mine; you're always welcome to come visit. But if you have to leave, go get your coat and come back up here."


"You'll see," Kate answered with a grin.

Mimi did so, and saw upon her return that Kate was looking at her book that answered questions. "Thank you, my friend." She smiled as Mimi walked back into the room at the top of the Tower. "Mimi, would you mind giving me your cellphone number?" They traded numbers, and Kate continued, "Thanks. Now, where is it that you want to go? Can you see it from here?"

Mimi walked over to the window farthest from the door. "It's right over there," she pointed.

"Over where?" Kate looked over Mimi's shoulder.

"Right there."

"You're sure you know exactly where it is?"

Mimi was starting to get annoyed... but then realized that the view of her destination was getting clearer. "Oh! Yes, I'm positive."

"Good. Come back soon!"

And Kate pushed Mimi through the window.

"Aaaaah!!!" Mimi stopped shouting in fear when she realized she wasn't falling - instead, she was drifting down to a gentle, two-point landing directly in front of Blossom Apartments. Her cellphone rang. "Hello?"

"Sorry about that," Kate's voice came through the phone, "but that's the traditional way to show somebody our way of getting anywhere in the surrounding area quickly. It's a pain to have to walk back, though."

"You could have just told me."

"Would you have believed me?"

"I am a mage."

"That doesn't answer my question, Mimi. Would you have believed me?"

She thought for a moment. "You're right. I would have wanted to see it for myself. But how did you know I wouldn't just fall three floors and split my head open?"

"My friend told me. His answers are always trustworthy."

"Your... oh, right, the book that answers you. I'm sorry that I couldn't stay and help you wash the dishes, but I had to fly." They both giggled. "Later!" And Mimi hung up the phone as she walked into the building.

to be continued...
Rob Kelk

Sticks and stones can break your bones,
But words can break your heart.
- unknown
RE: [IC][Story][Arc 1] Learning to Be Yourself
Blossom Apartments, Ottawa, ON, Canada
January 21, 2017
3:33 PM

Rob walked into the common room to hear Mimi talking on her phone, on speaker. "Thank you for the offer, but I believe I'll have to decline," she announced. "Are you sure that Tohsaka-san isn't available?"

"I'm quite sure that she isn't in the building right now."

"Then I'll let you get back to whatever it was that you were doing. Good day." She waited for the answering good-bye, then hung up, and noticed Rob.

He noticed the look on her face. "I couldn't help but overhear the end of your conversation. I assume you were speaking with somebody in Montreal, and I'm guessing it didn't go as well as you had hoped."

"You're right on that guess," she replied. "I know I should have said yes to her offer to teach me, but the way Medea-san sounded so much like Kaolinite... I just couldn't."

Having watched the anime, Rob couldn't help but agree. "No, you made the right choice. You really don't want to owe Caster any favours. Her price is too high."

Blossom Apartments, Ottawa, ON, Canada
January 22, 2017
2:37 PM

"A giant bird that wants to eat a heart?" Ruiko looked up from the manual she was still reading. "Rob-oji, you showed us that one."

"Oh, right, he did!" Kazari nodded, turned to her laptop, clicked on one of her bookmarks, and went into the site's archives. "It was one of her earlier posts..." Page after page flashed on her computer screen. "Here it is - November 20." She scrolled down about one-fifth of the way and handed the laptop to Rob.

"Read it," Ruiko insisted.

He did, then passed the laptop back to Kazari. "And that's one of my favourites, too." Sighing deeply, he took his coffee mug and poured some water into it, then placed the mug on the floor and asked it, "Are you trying to tell me something?"

The mug did not deign to answer.

The common room's computer, however, did, suddenly playing "Philadelphia Freedom". Rob looked surprised. "Who in the Pennsylvania residence wants to talk to somebody here?"

Blossom Apartments, Ottawa, ON, Canada
January 22, 2017
7:27 PM

Mimi was surprised to see Rob waiting in the front lobby of the new building. "Welcome home, Mimi."

"Thank you, Mr. Donaldson. It's unusual to see you in the copy building, with the extra people."

His smile turned into a frown. "Hey - nobody here is 'extra'. At least I don't think that."

Mimi sighed. "Okay, that was a poor choice of words. What brings you here?"

"I have a message for you, from one of the other residences. Ben mentioned to the other apartment managers that you were looking for a magic teacher, and Philadelphia's resident manager called me with an offer. They have some professional mages in residence there."

"I'll have to call them back, and thank - what's his name? The manager there?"

"Her name... she calls herself 'Inquisitive Raven'." With that, Rob stopped talking for a moment.

"Hey, are you okay?"

"Sorry - just thinking about what Usagi told me I said after I took that blast of yours. And to quote Sakura Kinomoto, 'There is no such thing as coincidence. There is only necessity.' Maybe I'd better stay out of this conversation altogether."

"Sure, okay. I'll call Philadelphia from this building and let you get back to whatever you were doing in the old building."

"The old building with the old guy," Rob added with a smile.

Ten minutes later, Mimi had reheated a microwave dinner in her apartment's kitchen and was using her computer to call the Philadelphia residence. After a moment, the call connected, and an emerald-haired woman appeared on the screen. "Hi! Lindy Harlaown here!"

"Hello, Ms. Harlaown. I'm Mimi Hanyu ..."

"The girl that Mr. Rhodes said would be calling, right? You called at an awkward time - we're just about to have dinner." She held up a sandwich. "Philly cheesesteaks. You should try one, if you haven't already."

"I already have a TV dinner here."

Lindy smiled. "Then we can talk while we're eating. Call it a virtual dinner together." She turned her head and continued, "Chrono-kun, Amy-chan, don't mind me. This has suddenly become a working meal." As she turned back to look at Mimi, she put some ketchup on her cheesesteak. "Allow me to introduce myself properly: I'm Admiral Lindy Harlaown of the Time-Space Administration Bureau, sometimes called the Dimensional Administration Bureau depending on how you translate the name. I understand that you want - or need - to learn how to control your magic."

"That's right," Mimi replied while shaking some powdered cheese onto her microwaved pasta.

"Do you mind if you're trained as a combat mage while you learn to control your magic?"

Mimi thought for a moment as she chewed and swallowed the first bite of her dinner. "I suppose not," she finally answered. "I used to go up against Sailor Moon quite a bit, in a previous lifetime, but never in a magic-to-magic duel."

"A previous lifetime? Before you became a displacee?"

Mimi shook her head. "Before I died and was resurrected."

"Oh." She did did her best to hide her surprise, but Mimi could read the subtle tells she was giving off. After a moment, Lindy continued. "Gil Graham and I are at your disposal, then. We have an interest in finding and training mages, before somebody like the Death Eaters around here, the Unseelie in your part of the world, or the Mazoku that Clef guards against in New Jersey find you. We want you to stay alive, sane, and on the side of the angels."

"Believe me, Ms. ... sorry, Admiral Harlaown, I very much want to try 'sane and on the side of the angels' in this lifetime. I tried the alternative last time and I don't like it now that I have a second chance."

Philadelphia, PA, USA
January 23, 2017
3:08 PM

"In my last lifetime, I had a magical rating of level 40," Mimi whispered to the four other people in the room - a human female, a human male, and twin catgirls, who had been introduced as Amy Limietta, Gil Graham, and his familiars Aria and Lotte, respectively.

"I don't know your scale, but that doesn't sound too bad," Graham replied.

"Eudial had a rating of level 78. Cyprene was level 999."

He raised an eyebrow. "Does that mean that level 40 is very good, or ...?"

Mimi sighed. "Everybody else in the Witches 5 was more powerful than me."

"According to the source material, everybody else in the Witches 5 ended up dead," Lotte replied. "You didn't. That has to count for something."

"All that means is that Sailor Moon brought me back from the half-dead state I was in."

Graham looked surprised to hear that. Aria leaned over and whispered into his ear for a few moments. Finally, he said, "I see. I'd very much like to meet Ms. Moon some time. But for now, Ms. Hanyu, let's see where you rate on the Bureau's scale."

"We have all of our Devices hooked into the sensors that Washuu-chan connected to her virtual environment chamber," Lindy added. "We should be able to get at least a rough idea of your ranking on our scale."

"I'll get more than a 'rough' idea, or my name isn't Amy Limietta," announced Amy. Everybody smiled at that - including Mimi.

Lindy and Gil looked at the screens showing Mimi's examination, while Amy paid closer attention to the readouts in front of her. Nobody was happy with what they were seeing.

"It's pretty obvious that she isn't an Old Belka Wizard, like Hayate," Gil finally commented.

"Or a Knight, like Signum. She wouldn't even qualify for Rank F on any of the Belka scales."

"Some people simply aren't cut out for hand-to-hand combat."

"True. Amy, switch over to the Midchilda test as soon as it's safe to do so."

"Yes, ma'am!" She tapped a few light-patches on her console, in a sequence she knew so well that she didn't bother looking at the panel.

After a few minutes, Lindy had lost her frown. "She has a bit of skill, but it doesn't translate into very effective attacks."

They watched Mimi easily disable a crowd of attackers that were trying to rush her en masse. "She's good with that wide area attack version of her Charm Buster spell, though - much better than I expected. She handled that zarg rush quite well."

"It's called a 'Zerg rush', Admiral Graham," Amy offered the correction. "The Zarg are from a different story altogether."

"I'm not an admiral any more, Amy."

"Oh, right. Sorry."

Not being able to hear the discussion on the other side of the magical barrier, Mimi simply kept trying to stay alive in the holosuite that looked and worked just like the one back in Ottawa. At least the opponents in the Bureau's version of what Rob said the New Jersey apartment manager called a Million-Mook March weren't rushing her any more, and she could finally defend herself the way that Kaolinite had taught her a lifetime ago.

Seeing what looked like a safe place on a balcony on the wall beside her, she looked for a staircase or ladder that she could use to reach it. That was the only reason she was looking up when a brown-haired girl who looked to be Chibi-Usa or Mimi Misaka's age flew into the testing area. "Oh, that's just not fair! People can't fly! The aerodynamics are all wrong!"

The girl smiled. "You've been ignoring the laws of thermodynamics by firing off energy bolts for the last sixteen minutes, and you're complaining about aerodynamics?"

"Fine, fine, I get what you're saying," Mimi replied as she dodged an attack from one of the ground-based drones and returned fire, disabling it. "It's magic."

"That's right! My name's Hayate, by the way." She pulled a book out of thin air and opened it. "And I'm your final obstacle in this test. Can you defend against me?"

"I'm Mimi. Let's find out."

"I'll start with a spell I learned from a friend of mine. Divine Buster!"

When Mimi regained consciousness, the holosuite was in its default configuration and everybody - including Hayate - was gathered around her. "Did anybody get the license number of the truck that hit me?"

Hayate grinned sheepishly and put one hand behind her head. "Sorry about that. I thought you'd be tough enough to take a little blast like that."

"That was a little blast?"

Lindy looked crossly at Hayate while answering Mimi. "Only if you're a Class A or higher mage. Hayate, you know you don't have that much control over your magic. You were supposed to start with a Bind."

As Lotte helped Mimi get back on her feet, she whispered, "That girl's got all the power in the worlds, but she really sucks at controlling it." Mr. Graham cleared his throat meaningfully, and Lotte added "I mean, she really needs help in controlling it."

"If anybody's interested," Amy interrupted, "I have the test results."

Mimi sighed. "How badly did I do?"

"For a beginner, you did remarkably well," she answered. "You don't rank at all on any of the Belkan hand-to-hand scales. You rank at Midchilda Wizard Ground Rank F, except that you're Rank E in wide area magic. You have no rank at all as an Air wizard - but that's okay; neither do I. Your mana capacity is Rank C, though, and that Charm Buster of yours looks like it's a Rank B spell," Amy finished.

"What does all that mean?"

Lindy smiled. "It means you're a beginner with a professional mage's stamina and one very good attack." Then she stopped smiling. "Unfortunately, it's your only attack, which makes you a one-trick ferret."

"Pony," Amy corrected.

"Is that how the idiom goes here?" Amy nodded, and Lindy continued, "You learn something new every day. Since you are a one-trick pony, anybody who can block your trick can attack you with impunity. We need to give you a better grounding in magical theory than what you already have. It'll take us a few days to put a curriculum together for you."

"Oh, thank you!" Mimi stepped toward Lindy and almost hugged her, then remembered that they were about to start a student-teacher relationship. No hugs.

Lindy smiled. "I like it when a new student is enthusiastic about her studies. Now, I have one more offer for you. We can seal or limit your ability until you have control over it."

Mimi wasn't sure she liked the sound of that. "Just what does that mean?"

"If we seal it, you won't be able to use magic at all," Aria replied. "You wouldn't have to worry about hurting anyone, but you wouldn't be able to practice, either."

"I don't like the sound of that."

Aria nodded. "I didn't think you would. If we put a limiter on your magic, then you'd be restricted to a maximum amount of power you could use for any one spell."

"From what I saw during the test," Amy added, "limiting your Charm Buster to Rank F would set it so you could only daze a single person with it, not knock him out."

Mimi frowned. "But I might need to knock somebody out again, to save somebody else's life."

"Rank E, then," Gil suggested.

Mimi thought for a moment. She loved using magic, but her magic right now was too dangerous to use without some sort of limit put on it. "Okay. Let's do that. And thank you."

"You're welcome," Lindy replied. "We'll call you later this week when we have a curriculum ready for you."

Mimi's story will be continued... but not now, and not in this thread. There's a reason why people skip over the classes and homework in most school stories, after all, and it's time for me to put the spotlight on other characters.
Rob Kelk

Sticks and stones can break your bones,
But words can break your heart.
- unknown

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