Lucidius Obscurus

By Moonraker One

CHAPTER FOUR – The Minus Seven Magics

Unaware of the fact that they were followed, the trio continued on towards their goal of celebration. The loner of the trio, Morino, had always reminded Shuichiko of that character in every anime—the emo, solitary, brooding type that always managed to remain out of contact of the rest of humanity. To a large degree, he fit that stereotype; he didn't talk to many people outside of the two friends she knew he had, and he often didn't hang out with anyone when he wasn't at school. Both Kanusuke and she always had their theories about why, but never in their wildest dreams would they imagine that he had an autism spectrum disorder, because he didn't fit the type at all. He was highly intelligent and often got better grades than either of them. However, to have broken through the wall he had between him and everyone else? That was a cause for celebration. They had a favorite karaoke spot that they always went to, at least on certain occasions.

A turn down a familiar alley saw the door, at the top of a very short three rung set of steps. Not thinking anything was out of the ordinary, they climbed the steps and Morino had his hand on the doorknob. He was halfway through turning it when the trio heard the distinct sound of someone's footfall behind them. Kanusuke barely had time to turn around when a pair of hands wrapped around Shuichiko, standing in the back, and as he laid eyes upon his friend, they vanished in a puff of smoke.

"What the…?" Kanusuke shouted. Morino athletically jumped from the top rung, over his friend's shoulder, and landed on the spot where their female friend had been standing a moment earlier. Acting quickly, he draped his right arm around his nerdy ally and conjured a spell in his mind to follow. He didn't know if it would work, or not, but when they saw everything fade to black and a new set of surroundings materialize around them, it was confirmed. "Thanks for that."

"No problem," Morino whispered. "Now, where the fuck are we?"

Kanusuke put his hand over his mouth in reflex. "Oop! I didn't think about that," he whispered. "Quick thinking; we're in enemy territory, I guess we'd best be stealthy. Don't have an invisible spell, do you?"

"Not exactly in my power range, but I might have something near." He looked around; there were four hallways, and not one of them had any cameras he could see. He saw no people around, and there was a large room at the end of the hallway in front of them. Shoving his friend and himself against a wall, he made their colors blend with the paint, and he tiptoed very slowly. "If we were to become invisible, I don't know if we'd be able to see. This way, we at least come close. How much energy did you absorb?"

"I got ahold of some live power lines," Kanusuke replied. "I should be good to go." He was amazed at how quickly his friend was able to shift into "battle mode." He wondered exactly where it came from. He chalked it up to paranoia. They saw a few lights changing color and coming from the room up ahead. It could only mean strong magic, they knew.

Shuichiko appeared in a large warehouse-like area, having been grabbed by someone. After being forcibly teleported, she utilized her martial arts skills and escaped from the grapple, flipping off her hands and back onto her feet, having turned around midair to meet her enemy. She put up her hands, instinctively, but her enemy was content just standing in one spot. She spat on the ground. "Who the hell are you, and what the hell do you want?" Shuichiko asked. It was then she noticed her enemy's features; the curvaceous body held firmly inside a dark red and black leather outfit, and the long blonde hair, but these were subordinate. The striking feature was the face mask. She knew it was a mask, because it had to be; the facial features kept changing. Her eyes, nose, and mouth, would shift into different pastiches of women from all over the world. She almost laughed; it was the perfect way to hide her identity, because a good disguise gives you a dozen different possible identities. This face mask gave her dozens of different identities every minute.

"What do I want?" The mysterious woman, known to her compatriots as Minus Six asked. She smiled with her Irish mouth and Russian eyes, before they changed again an instant later. "You. You're the key to everything." Her Hispanic smile then changed into a Chinese frown. "And there's no one I hate more than you." Her eyes, squinted in anger, changed at least five times before Shuichiko could mount a valid response, each new set of eyes looking fiercer than the last.

"How the fuck can you hate me so much," Shuichiko countered, "when I've never met you before?"

"You've met me before," Minus Six argued. "You're the reason I have to wear this mask. You made my life a living hell."

"But how could…ugh…" Halfway through Shuichiko's rebuttal, her vision got blurry. Her mind felt a bit dazed, but the feeling lasted only an instant. As she gazed at her unknown enemy, the fleeting emotion was almost impossible to describe. It was as if there was déjà vu, of an infinite variety, but lasting only the briefest of moments. She got back to her senses almost immediately. "Ok, how the fuck did you do that to me?"

Her enemy seemed caught off guard for a moment. "I didn't do that. But no matter!" She leapt forward. "For all my pain, you die!" She slung a fireball at her enemy. Shuchiko dodged the flame spell, and attempted a kick to the gut, which Minus Six easily parried, attempted a sweep, and saw her orange haired enemy jump it and return with a spinning jump kick. When Minus Six ducked the jump kick, she quickly scooted backwards and attempted a shockwave spell.

Shuichiko moved to the left of the invisible wave before it was launched, and responded with a spell that set her fists on fire and punched her enemy four times in the chest and face. It was brief, because she didn't want to damage her hands more than her healing ability could handle. The strange thing was, her foe started the fight much stronger than her magically, and yet Shuichiko, in the brief moments of battle, felt her power growing to match that of her foe's. She turned away a fist containing a dagger summoned out of pure energy. To this, she responded with a shockwave of her own, this one partially catching Minus Six. The blonde foe was able to steel part of the blow and avoided a straight punch and grabbed her foe's right arm and chucked her about two meters away.

Shuichiko landed on her feet, spinning around and dropping into a battle stance immediately. "So, you're stronger than you look." She grinned. "You'd have to be; I can train my body to any level of athletics imaginable, so you have to be durable to take my punches."

Minus Six sneered. "I know all about your ability to grow as an athlete without a ceiling," she said. "What're you up to now on that strength training machine of yours, a thousand kilograms? Fifteen hundred?" In an instant, she appeared before Shuichiko; the dark orange-haired girl gasped, because she hadn't seen her start running. A single blow to the abdomen felt like being hit by a cannon ball. She flew almost eight meters to land on her back. A gust of wind indicated her foe had run up to her. "I think I haven't slacked off on my training, either. I'm surprised your durability could take my twenty ton strength."

Shuichiko got to her feet, coughing up a bit of blood. She healed a moment later, but she knew one more punch like that could take her head clean off. "What the fuck are you?"

She drew back a mighty fist. "Your death, Masara," she said. She threw her fist at full power.

At the last possible moment, with a shove from Morino, Kanusuke slid about six meters across the floor, and managed to spring to his feet to be immediately between Minus Six and Shuichiko. Conjuring his energy absorb spell faster than his enemy's fist could fly, he gritted his teeth as the enormous force of thousands of kilograms slammed into his sternum. He felt his magical energy change considerably as the kinetic energy was added to his magical surplus. His blonde foe was no doubt surprised to see her death blow absorbed with no after effect. Angrily, she pounded his forehead with another blow. He absorbed it as well. Taking advantage of her stunned silence, he tapped his finger on her chest. Before she could finish looking down at his finger, he converted all of the force of her punches back into kinetic energy, directed into her chest at the tip of his finger.

"Arrgh!" she shouted in pain, blood trickling out of her mouth. She flew backwards at tremendous velocity. Morino, acting quickly, got into her flight path, and summoned a sword out of pure light, making it solid. He held it upward and steeled his feet as best he could. She slammed into him with enough force to send him flying backwards into a wall.

Minus Six stood up. "Your tricks aren't going to work on…me…?" The sudden pain in her stomach interrupted her angry retort. She looked down; she was impaled through the abdomen.

Shuichiko gazed at her in furious anger. "Healing is a bitch, isn't it? Fatal wounds take longer to heal; can you stay conscious long enough?"

Kanusuke felt like he was going to be sick. "Your liver's punctured," he said. "You're going to bleed to death very quickly."

Minus Six backed into a wall. Looking at the enemy's allies starting to encircle her, she brought her right hand up to her eyes. "Remember this time, damn it!" She snapped her fingers.

"But how could…ugh…" Halfway through Shuichiko's rebuttal, her vision got blurry. Her mind felt a bit dazed, but the feeling lasted only an instant. As she gazed at her unknown enemy, the fleeting emotion was almost impossible to describe. It was as if there was déjà vu, of an infinite variety, but lasting only the briefest of moments. She got back to her senses almost immediately. "Ok, how the fuck did you do that to me?"

Minus Six was caught off guard for a moment. "I didn't do that…did I?" she shook her head. Looking at her foe, though, she got angry again. "No matter, I'm going to put an end to you! Die!" She charged her enemy, giving her a swift punch to the gut, sending her sailing. She'd been planning to tease her, let Shuichiko think she had a chance by Six pulling her punches for a bit, but a gut feeling told her to go for the gusto. She got on her downed foe in an instant, stomping her in the gut hard enough to shake the building. Even with Shuichiko's healing and durability, she hacked up blood from the force of the stomp. Minus Six hoisted her over her head by one hand. "You've met your end."

A dagger, composed of a white light made solid, flew across the room and buried itself in the upper back of the woman known as Minus Six. Involuntarily, she dropped her would-be victim. Shuichiko gasped for air as she stood up and backed away from her attacker. She got up a defensive fighting stance. Unfortunately, she still felt dizzy from her fight. Minus Six gasped in pain as she stood up. Kanusuke and Morino arrived very quickly to back up their friend. She saw herself surrounded by them, and let out a sigh.

"So, the three are united," she said, angrily as her facial features shifted once again. "Just like predicted, it's the start of the whole thing."

Shuichiko lowered her eyebrows in confusion. "What are you talking about? What 'whole thing' is it the start of?"

This drew laughter from Minus Six. "You mean you don't know?" She quickly stuck out her right hand, and was ready to snap her finger once again. Acting quickly, Morino jumped just in time to grab her hand before she could do so. He knew she was going to cast a spell, but didn't know what. "Let go of me! He refused to let go, instead holding on with all his might. "Let GO!" She kicked him in the side, causing him to go sailing.

"No!" Shuichiko shouted, leaping forward. She managed to get kicked in the stomach, right as the woman snapped her fingers…

"But how could…" Halfway through Shuichiko's rebuttal, her vision got blurry. However, as she felt her mind get a bit dazed, this time she realized what was different. The reason she felt like it was déjà vu, was because it was; somehow, the woman known as Minus Six, every time she snapped her fingers, it would send her back a specific period in time. Previously, she hadn't been involved in the spell, but this time she had. It was all because of the impact of getting kicked in the stomach. With the ability to go back in time, those involved lost all knowledge they'd gained from the future, but they had another chance to do a series of actions. Shuichiko guessed that they'd been fighting this woman for quite a long time in the few minutes that had passed.

This time, instead of waiting for Minus Six's response, she leapt forward, tackling her to the ground before she had a chance to do anything. She clamped a hand on the edge of Minus Six's face mask and began pulling it off. When she went to snap her finger to activate a spell, Shuichiko pressed down on it. "Morino! Tie down the other hand! She activates her spells with a snap of the finger!"

Morino, approaching, drove a magic spike through the hand, attacking it to the ground. Kanusuke put his foot on top of it. "NO!" Minus Six yelled. "Don't! Don't look at my face!"

Shuichiko barely had time to prepare. After tearing off the mask, and getting a good look at the woman's face, a bright glow emanated from underneath. She closed her eyes and backed away, the column of light shooting outward from her face. It lasted a few minutes, and then died out. When it ceased, the woman was still. A check of her nose and mouth showed she wasn't breathing. Somehow, the act of looking at her face killed her. As Shuichiko looked up to see the light dancing around the ceiling, an idea came to her. The white lights circled around for a few minutes and then dissolved. She shook her head.

"I think we're in over our head," Kanusuke said.

Shuichiko cleared her throat. "I think this woman, no matter who she is, we haven't seen the last of her."

"But what about this body?" Morino asked, looking down.

"She has the ability to move through time," Shuichiko answered. "I got a glimpse of it when I was fighting her. Somehow, it's like save stating on an emulator of a video game." She looked around. "Am I the only one feeling a sense of déjà vu?"

They looked at each other and shook their heads. "No, it seemed strange that this warehouse started to seem more familiar as I kept going down the hallway," Kanusuke said.

"That's because we've probably been fighting her thousands of times," Shuichiko answered. "Every time we'd come close to beating her, she'd go back to the start of the battle. The only problem was, she didn't remember the previous battles, so there was no learning. That's why we kept beating her."

"Exactly," a voice said, walking in from the distance.

Suddenly, the three of them snapped to attention. The man approaching them, he had an air about him of being in charge. It just seemed to them that he was somehow the brains behind the operation. They stood, not moving, just watching. Somehow they just knew he was way out of their league.

Shuichiko took a ragged breath. "Okay, what the fuck was this and who the hell are you?"

He pushed his long black hair away from his face. "I suppose you deserve an answer, since she broke the rules," he said. "We are a group called the Minus Seven group. We keep track of powerful magic and keep it from being stolen by various groups. Minus Six was only supposed to observe you, but since her powers are time-related—and I don't even think she knew how to use them—she encountered you in another time period. So she had some form of a vendetta against you." He took a bow. "I sincerely apologize, and I promise we won't be bothering you again." He levitated Minus Six's corpse and disappeared in a flash of light.

Kanusuke shook his head. "Somehow, I knew this would happen. This is the ' oh shit ' moment."

Morino pat him on the back. "Hey, man, think of it this way: would you rather be non-powered, than powered?"

Shuichiko started walking away. "We've got to get used to it," she lamented. "We're going to be having to deal with stuff like this for a while now." She looked back at them. "Will the two of you stop looking so damn depressed? Weren't we about to start the process of celebrating?"

They left the warehouse. "Yeah, you're right," Kanusuke admitted. "I'm just overthinking things."