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Chapter 5 Main Chapters Chapter 7

Chapter 6: Storm

We rode for about an hour. My little sister was now riding with Miss Asahina, and the two were chatting pleasantly. We came to a large lake, with tall cliffs at the far side. I noticed the sky was getting darker, and looked up to see several huge storm clouds moving in.

I returned my eyes to the cliffs and saw someone climb up from the far side and stand at the top. Is that who I think it is? We're in big trouble if I'm right.

Taniguchi is sending his horse galloping up ahead to the cliffs - he's seen her too. "Miss Asakura!" he's shouting at her. "It's great to see you again!"

Haruhi was riding beside me, and said excitedly, "Kyon, it's her, the girl who mysteriously transferred out of our school! Now she's reappeared here! Maybe we can finally find out what happened!"

Ryoko Asakura's soft but crystal clear voice was carried perfectly to us as we continued riding, maybe by the storm winds or the natural acoustic properties of the cliffs and the lake beneath. "Why hello, everyone. It's marvelous to see that you've all been enjoying your lives since I left you."

I looked to back and to my right, and saw Yuki leaving her position at the back of the line and galloping forward. That's quite a relief - I can only hope Yuki can defend all of us.

"I can tell, we're on the cusp of many changes being made to this world, and all that's needed is a catalyst," Asakura considered. She smiled at me and said pleasantly, "Kyon, if your death can be that catalyst, we can finally understand the flow of information around Haruhi Suzumiya. I know last time you didn't want to die, but this is the best way to improve things. This time I won't dissipate my energies controlling the flow of information in this area. In fact, I think I'll utilize an entirely new source of power."

The storms had now come directly overhead. She reached up her hand, and it was instantly struck by a bolt of lightning. She didn't flinch, and in a moment the lightning continued out of her palm. It would've hit me, except my horse reared in terror and threw me off, so the bolt hit the ground instead. I'm fairly sure that the lightning is not following the normal laws of physics, but the normal laws of physics don't often apply when Asakura is around.

The lightning had spooked the horses. I heard Haruhi's horse neighing as it rode on, and I got up in time to see that the horse Miss Asahina and my little sister was riding on had bolted. They were both screaming as their horse raced further and further away. My heart went out to them, but on the other hand, I was very glad they'd probably be a safe distance from the fight.

Taniguchi had turned chalk white, and he checked his horse sharply as it pranced in alarm. "What's going on? Miss Asakura, what are you trying to do? What are you talking about?"

Asakura sighed. "I see you still don't want to die, Kyon. I don't understand why organics feel so strongly about it. It will happen sooner or later."

Yuki had pulled up near the cliff and her mouth was moving rapidly, though I was still too far away to hear what she was saying. I tried to remount while Haruhi and Koizumi turned their horses around and came back to me. "Kyon, what's she talking about? What did you do to her?" Haruhi demanded to know.

There was no more time for talk. Yuki launched some sort of glowing darts at Asakura. She jumped down to a lower portion of the cliff, avoiding Yuki's attack, and launched a barrage of similar darts at Yuki. Yuki extended her arm in a series of motions too fast to see, intercepting each of the darts. Meanwhile, Asakura leapt to the ground and began to run at superhuman speed towards us.

Koizumi maneuvered his horse forward and cut her off while he drew his sword. Asakura's lips moved quickly and her hands turned into blades. Taniguchi, a few meters to the side, screamed at this unnatural transformation. Koizumi rained blows down on her, and Asakura parried with her blade hands and tried to get past his defenses.

Yuki rode up to Asakura's other side, pointed her star wand at Asakura, and chanted, "Kai-Ha, you know?" Blue bolts coruscated out at Asakura. She moved one of her hands to intercept the bolts in a blur, while the other hand still fended off Koizumi.

Asakura said pleasantly, "I'm starting to think that if I were to kill either of you, Haruhi would also have an interesting reaction. But I'm afraid it would still be nowhere near the magnitude of her response to Kyon's death."

"Let's get out of here," I recommended to Haruhi as I urged my horse into a gallop. She, of course, pretended not to hear me, mesmerized by the unearthly conflict as though it were a television show.

Asakura looked up at the sky above Yuki while still parrying Yuki's bolts and Koizumi's blade. A bolt of blue lightning struck Yuki, and she froze in place. "Please excuse me," Asakura asked Koizumi politely as she leaped three meters in the air above him, landing on the other side of his horse, and began to come after me.

I've already put some distance between myself and her. Last time Asakura tried to kill me I was trapped in a classroom. Let's see if I can outdistance her on a horse!

Haruhi's coming this way, she's probably following both me and Asakura. I think Koizumi's coming, but I'm not sure what's happened to Nagato or Taniguchi. I haven't got a lot of time for that, though, because Asakura is running incredibly fast after me, and I need to pay attention to my horse.

Oh no, the storm clouds are moving after me too! That probably means- augh! Another lightning bolt almost fried us! This time I barely hung on to my horse while it reared and whinnied in utter terror. I looked behind me to see Asakura rapidly closing the distance.

Another lightning bolt almost crashed down on my head, but just in time Yuki leapt off her horse and intercepted it with a shimmering shield around her body. Her horse ran on, and Yuki landed smoothly on the ground.

Asakura was closer than I thought. My horse had turned so that my left side was totally exposed to her. She leapt off the ground, her blade hands slashing at my throat. I ducked underneath her attack, and landed a solid blow to her abdomen, causing her to fall back to the ground.

"That was an excellent hit, Kyon!" Asakura said brightly as she picked herself up.

She launched herself like a coiled spring, feinting towards my throat again. I held back and saw that she was this time slashing from the inside out and then down, towards my legs, and my undeserving horse. I whipped out my arm, striking her in the throat with the side of my hand. This time the momentum carried her down and to my right. She now jumped over the head of my horse, blade arms spread wide, bringing them together so as to scissor me to death. I brought my arms from the inside out, blocking Asakura's attack by hitting the insides of her arms, fortunately at points where they were still humanoid instead of palely glowing cutting edges. I was going to kick her before I realized I was sitting on a horse. Her momentum pushed me back.

Yuki bowled into Asakura from the side with a leap, shoving them both to the ground beside my horse. Koizumi, Taniguchi, and Haruhi rode up and came to a halt near Asakura and Yuki, who were engaged in fierce melee combat, their arms moving so fast I could hardly see them. Asakura was trying to get at me again. Yuki was managing to block her, but I wasn't sure how long this could last. Koizumi looked hesitant to start swinging his sword when he might easily hit Yuki. Yuki, as usual, didn't appear worried at all.

Taniguchi, sweating profusely, aimed an iron fan at Asakura and shouted, "Rekka Shinen!" Yuki leapt away at the last moment, as Asakura was enveloped in flames. Asakura, wreathed in smoke, crumpled to the ground.

"We should leave now, you know?" Yuki recommended in a monotone. I reached out my hand, and she took it and leapt onto my horse behind me. We all started to gallop away, Taniguchi a few seconds later.

Yuki's horse, up ahead, came trotting back to meet us. Taniguchi was shouting after us, "Why are we running? Surely that took care of her?"

In the midst of a perfect jump into her horse's saddle, Yuki answered, "The interface you know as Asakura has not yet suffered irreparable damage, you know."

I wasn't sure what Taniguchi found more unbelievable, the thought that Asakura might still not be dead, or Yuki's preternatural calm. He looked back at where Asakura had fallen and said regretfully, "And she was an A-rank, too."

A few minutes later, we rejoined the horse bearing Miss Asahina and my sister. They were very relieved to see us alive, but seemed somewhat disturbed when we told them to continue galloping along with us.

I urged my horse to Yuki's side and I asked her, as quietly as you can on a horse thumping rapidly over the plains and still be heard, "How did Asakura come back? I thought you'd destroyed her months ago."

Yuki eyed me calmly and answered, "Unknown. Asakura no longer has data linkages to me or the informational entity, so is not my backup unit. The biological interface we encountered simply exists with information highly similar to the original backup unit, you know?"

Taniguchi sidled his horse alongside and asked, "Hey, Kyon, what was going on? What happened to Asakura, and why was she trying to kill us?"

Haruhi looked back from her position at the head, a meter or so in front of our horses, and yelled back, "Did you do something to her to make her mad, Kyon?" She looked suspiciously at me.

"I didn't do anything," I protested. This was going to get awkward soon. How was I going to explain that Asakura was an alien like Yuki?

Koizumi, at the end of the column, came unexpectedly to my rescue by shouting, "I think my advisors told me about this. We're not the only country with warriors. Our neighbors, the Koutou Empire, have got warriors of Seiryu. I believe we just encountered the one known as Soi. Probably she was just trying to goad Kyon into single combat."

Taniguchi shook his head sadly. "So that's why she's got blades for hands and control over lightning. She's going mad from becoming one of these freaky warrior things."

I feel bad about misleading my friend like this, but I'm not at liberty to divulge any of the Brigade member's secrets.

Miss Asahina put her divine hands to her mouth and whimpered, "S-so there are six more interface- I, I mean, Seiryu warriors somewhere?"

My little sister shivered and cried, "No! Can't we just go home, big brother?"

I didn't anticipate this- Haruhi slowed her horse down a bit so she could come alongside and pat my little sister on the head. "Don't worry," she said. "They're all going to protect us. We're going to make it." Then she galloped further forward.

Chapter 5 Main Chapters Chapter 7