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NEO DOMINO—Rock trio Kizuna shocked thousands of indie rock enthusiasts on their Facebook late Friday night by confirming rumors of Kizuna’s disbandment, but it seems a break-up isn’t in the trio’s future. An official press release from industry leader Crimson Dragon Group has declared itself as Yusei Fudo, Jack Atlas, and Crow Hogan’s new label, with the addition of Aki Izayoi—the punk sensation better known as Black Rose Witch—as lead vocalist for new band ‘5D’s’—

“I don’t like this.”

Jack’s complaining again.

He’s been complaining since the moment the three of them were approached with the idea; opened his mouth the second he saw Godwin’s name on the letter, didn’t shut it while he was there or after he left. He complained the first time they met Aki, complained when all of them met again because how dare Yusei be taking this seriously was he even listening to him, and then he even complained when Yusei was the first to sign the deal.

“Don’t you see what this is getting at?” he says now, pointing emphatically at the article. “We’re sell-outs.”

Crow wishes he could just tune Jack out—he’s kind of envious of Yusei, who’s been carefully tuning his guitar against the noise for the better half of fifteen minutes now—but Jack insists on being too loud and too obnoxious for Crow to handle.

“Hey, Jack,” he says, rubbing at his temples, “how about you stop pretending this is new to you, yeah?”

What? You ass—”

“It’s going to be an adjustment for all of us.” Yusei pauses and looks up, eyes locking meaningfully with Jack, then Crow, then back again. He says with utmost sincerity, “But this is one step toward our dream.”

“Point,” says Crow, nodding. Yusei smiles and returns to his bass.

Jack tosses the newspaper in the trash and snorts. “You sound like Kiryu.”

At that Yusei freezes, his test note hanging untuned in the air.

He frowns. Slowly puts his guitar to the side, folds his hands in his lap, looking down. The others watch him, Crow’s eyes only darting away to give Jack a sideways glare.


“Don’t,” mutters Yusei, “it’s fine.”

Jack rolls his eyes. Crow’s about to wheel on him, tell him exactly where he can shove it and then turn to Yusei like, look, Jack is just an idiot, we signed this contract together, didn’t we?, but before Crow starts, the three of them are saved by the merciful clicking of heels approaching from down the hall.

Aki Izayoi slams the door open and the tension away.

She’s in the black boots of her brand, laced tight and tall and—judging from Aki’s expression and the state of her hair—ready to step on anyone or anything that gets in their way. Aki’s aesthetic is punk rock princess, but this, Crow thinks, is less punk and more if looks could kill.

“If one more fan yells at me for breaking up their favorite boy band,” she says, stalking up to the stool next to Yusei, “I might actually give them a real reason to hate me.” She crosses her arms without sitting down, glares indiscriminately around the room.

They stare at her.

“What?” Her shoulders drop, anger draining into self-consciousness.

“It’s nothing,” says Yusei, a faint smile at the corner of his mouth. “You surprised us.”

“Yo.” Crow gives her a two-finger salute. “You can kill Jack first.”

Aki blinks. For all her temper at their crazed fans, it doesn’t usually last long around the guys themselves. Now her eyes find Jack, who’s mimicked her earlier gesture but coupled it with a pout and is pointedly looking away. “Uh,” she says, “am I interrupting something?”

“Of course not,” says Yusei. He pats the stool beside him and Aki takes a seat.

“Never,” says Crow.

“Just our band,” says Jack, but Aki’s a quick learner, so she already knows not to take him seriously.

“Well,” she says, shrugging. “If you say so.”

“We’re glad you’re here,” Yusei smiles, in that way of his that makes you forget that anything else even matters.

“Yeah, having you around definitely makes up for having Jack around, too,” Crow grins. It’s been an adjustment, that much is true—but even Jack has to admit that Aki’s vocals are solid, and that 5D’s sounds damn good.