It had started out as a normal day, much like any other. Tomoe got up in the morning, went to class, rocked on through practice with Afterglow, and ate with the rest of the band at the local family restaurant. All in all, your typical day, but as soon as everyone went their separate ways, all of that changed in an instant as a voice - faint and choppy, yet still there - rang out in Tomoe’s mind.
“Heir of Flame… Your destined time is nearly upon you…”
Tomoe looked about in confusion, eyebrow raised. She gestures to herself, putting her finger to her chest. “You talkin’ to me?”
“You must defend those you hold dear… You must defend… the land of the ancients…”
“What do you-” At that moment, everything faded to black.
When Tomoe came to, she found herself standing in a place wholly unfamiliar to her. She seemed to be in some form of ancient brick hallway, the walls lined with lit sconces. Everything was in a steady state of disrepair, however. Nature has been steadily retaking its place, and chunks of the walls have crumbled away, leaving a view of what appeared to be vast galaxies in the distance. Looking behind, Tomoe saw a pair of double doors, sealed as tight as can be. Once again, the voice called out, clearer this time.
“My heir… Come forth, and claim your destiny for yourself.”
Seeing as it was her only option, she reluctantly complied, walking down towards the end of the hall. “Are you gonna tell me what’s going on, or do I gotta figure out this fever dream for myself?”
“In due time. Everything will make sense soon enough.”
Tomoe shook her head. She wasn’t sure why she expected any sort of answer, but it had been worth a shot. Regardless, she continued on, finding herself now in a large circular room. In the center lay an altar, a golden bracelet resting atop it. She approached semi-cautiously and picked up the bracelet, getting a feel for its weight. “Lemme guess. You want me to put this on?”
“It is your fate, Heir of Flame.”
She looked it up, a bit unsure. After a moment, though, she shrugged her shoulders. “Not like anything bad could come of this.” With that said, she slid it on, and it clicked in place, conforming comfortably to her wrist. As soon as it did so, blazing flames ignited within Tomoe’s eyes, and she found herself assaulted with vision after vision after vision: a large robot of red and grey steel, a jagged golden crown atop its head; a beast with three heads and scythes for arms; a wormhole open up in the sky. Tomoe could only watch as the two figures clashed right outside Tokyo until everything faded to black once more.
This time, Tomoe woke up in bed, still in her clothes from yesterday. “Ughhhh, what happened last night…?” She sat up and put her hand to her aching forehead, but as she did so, her sleeve dropped a bit, revealing the golden bracelet still stuck around her wrist. Her heart stopped for just a moment as she reached out to touch it, feeling the oddly warm metal against her skin. With a few tugs, she tried to pull it off, but it wasn’t budging. It was on tight, and nothing was changing that. ‘So all that really was real…?’ she thought to herself. At least she wears a lot of long sleeves normally, but she knew full well that she wouldn’t be able to hide this next time she was on stage or when it came time for the summer uniforms again. She sighed to herself, and as if on cue, her phone buzzed. She reached over to check it - Oh god, two o’ clock already!? - and saw a text from Himari asking where she was. Right, they were supposed to meet up today.
sweet tooth: tomoe?
sweet tooth: tomoeeeeeeee???
sweet tooth: tomoeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee youre laaaaate!!!
lesbian jesus: Sorry! I’ll be over soon
Somehow, though, she got the feeling that this was going to be a long day.
“To-mo-eeeeeeeeeee! How could you leave me waiting for so long?” Himari pouted at Tomoe from across the table. They were supposed to meet at Hazawa Cafe over an hour ago, and Tomoe had only just shown up.
Tomoe rubbed the back of her neck semi-sheepishly. “Look, I’m sorry. I only just woke up a bit ago. Must’ve slept through all my alarms or something.”
Himari crossed her arms, puffing out her cheeks. “Hmph. Maybe you should’ve set more, then.”
“I’m not too sure that would’ve helped. I don’t really even remember much of last night.”
That got Himari’s attention. She dropped the pout for a look of concern instead and looks Tomoe over from across the table. “Are you feeling alright? You didn’t seem all that sick yesterday.”
“I don’t know? Everything after we split off is just a blur, and I definitely had a weird dream.”
“Do you want to talk about it? I can listen if you need me to.”
“Sure? It’s not all… that long…” Tomoe trailed off as stared out the window, her jaw dropping. The sky was opening up, just like she saw in her vision. It would probably only be a matter of time before that beast came through. Once again, that voice rang out in her mind.
“You are their only hope. Call out to me with your mind, and I shall come.”
“Tomoe… Are you okay?” Himari waved a hand in front of Tomoe’s face. “You’re kinda spacing out on me.”
“Huh? Yeah, yeah, I’m, uh… I’m fine. Do you mind if I use the bathroom, Ikindagottago!” Without even waiting for a response, Tomoe got up from her seat and ran to the back of the cafe, taking the back exit next to the bathroom door.
The air outside felt heavy, an ominous aura resting on Tomoe’s shoulders. “There’s no way this is real… There can’t be.”
“Heir of Flame, you cannot waste any more time. Call out to me, or we will not be able to stop the assault.”
“Alright, gimme a second.” One phrase was bouncing around in her mind, and deep down in her heart, Tomoe knew it had to be right. She thrust her arm in the air, bracelet held to the sky, and called out to the world, “Come, Blazing Kaiser!” As soon as the words left her mouth, she disappeared in a burst of flame.
In the time it took Tomoe to blink, she found herself in some kind of open metal room. There was plenty of space for her to move around, and a holographic screen in front of her showed a clear view of the sky, the wormhole getting closer. “Wh-what is this!?”
“Welcome aboard, Heir of Flame. I am flying us in, but once the fight begins, you will need to guide my movements.”
Tomoe looked about the empty cockpit, raising an eyebrow. “And how am I supposed to do that? There’s no controls or anything!”
“Just stand in the center and fight like you normally would. I will be able to track your movements.”
She took her spot right in the center, taking a moment to stretch before the fight. “Well, believe it or not, I’m not really a trained fighter. I know how to throw a punch, and that’s about it.”
“Do not worry. Your heart remembers everything. If you just listen to it, it will guide you to victory.”
“My heart, huh? Next thing I know, you’re gonna tell me some other me has done this before.”
“That is correct. You are the Heir of Flame, after all.” At that moment, the machine landed down in the Tokyo Bay in front of the wormhole, a fair distance from the shore. “There’s no more time for questions. Prepare yourself.”
Tomoe punched her palm, and the Blazing Kaiser did just the same. “Alright. I’ll just ask later, then.”
Within moments, the air became heavier as one, two, three heads peeked out from the wormhole, followed by a pair of scythes hooking onto the edges. With a quick thrust of its arms, the massive beast leapt through into the world. It was just as Tomoe had seen in her vision: three square heads atop long winding necks; a pair of scythe arms, much like a mantis; and four sturdy legs keeping it upright.
Tomoe looked the beast over, fire in her eyes. “Yeesh. It’s even nastier up close.” Not even giving it a chance to fully steady itself, she threw the first punch, driving Kaiser’s fist straight into its gut. The beast slid back a ways, and Tomoe immediately started hopping from foot to foot, fists at the ready. “Alright! If you wanna hurt my friends, you gotta get through me first!”
The beast let out a monstrous roar in response and immediately charged forth, swinging one of its scythe arms at Kaiser. With a quick motion, Tomoe ducked to the side and countered with a right hook, smacking one of the beast’s heads into another and causing it to stumble a bit. The remaining head, however, took this chance to aim right at them and unleash a steady stream of fire.
“Whoa!” Nearly instinctively, Tomoe threw her arms out, and Kaiser caught the fire between its hands, coalescing it all into a ball. “Wait, I can do that!?”
“Focus, Heir! Incoming!”
“Wh-!” Before she could get anything more out, the beast body slammed Kaiser, sending it tumbling down into the water and launching the fireball off into the wormhole. Despite it not actually hitting her, Tomoe felt the impact completely as she was knocked to the floor. She pushes herself back up to her feet as the beast charges forth once again. “What was that!?”
“Our connection is two-way. You have control, but that means you will feel anything inflicted upon me.”
Tomoe sidesteps the beast and clotheslines it with an outstretched arm. “That’ll be fun to try to explain later. Do you have any weapons?”
“I come equipped with a rocket punch and a flail. Just focus your heart, and they will come forth.”
“Can do!” The beast slashed at them again, and Tomoe ducked below, then launched up in a rising uppercut. As Kaiser’s fist connected with the beast’s chin, it shot up and launched the beast back, flipping it onto its back. Kaiser’s fist returned in a moment, and before the beast could right itself, Tomoe focused her thoughts, and a holographic spiked flail appeared in her hands, with a much more real one appearing in Kaiser’s hands to match. In a flash, they rushed at the downed beast, swinging the weapon down into it. It roared out as it was slammed into the sea floor and lashed out at them, slamming its heads into Kaiser’s side. Reacting quickly, Tomoe dug her heels in, allowing them to hold steady for long enough to reach over and grab the beast by its necks. With tremendous effort and plenty of groaning, they flung it over their heads and slammed it down once more onto its back. With the beast’s soft underbelly exposed, Tomoe rolls her shoulders and reels back for a punch. “Time to end this. Udagawa…” Kaiser’s fist ignites, then they leap up into the air and slam down, punching a hole straight through the beast. “...PUUUUUNCH!” After a moment, it faded to dust, leaving Kaiser standing on its own in the bay. Slowly, the wormhole sealed shut.
“Target eliminated. You can rest easy for now.”
Tomoe breathed a sigh of relief, wiping the sweat from her forehead. “Good. As awesome as that was, I don’t think I’m ready for another just yet.” She paused a moment, pulling out her phone to see- Yep, it’s full of texts. “Shit! Himari’s been trying to get ahold of me this whole time!”
sweet tooth: tomoe are you almost done?
sweet tooth: theres something really weird in the sky
sweet tooth: oh my god look at the news theres a robot in the bay
sweet tooth: OH MY GOD THERES A MONSTER IN THE BAY
sweet tooth: tomoe youre gonna miss it! i know you love this kind of thing
lesbian jesus: I’m almost done, gimme a minute
Tomoe put a hand on her hip as Kaiser took off into the skies on its own. “So how do I get back? Himari might get suspicious if I leave her alone any longer.”
“Just focus on leaving, and you’ll end up right where you left.”
“Should be easy enough. I’m expecting an explanation tonight, though.”
“As you wish. Just reach out to me, and I’ll answer.”
Tomoe nodded her head, then focused her thoughts. Envisioning the cafe in her mind, she disappeared once more.
With a quick burst of flame, Tomoe reappeared in the alley behind the cafe. The adrenaline was starting to die down, and she felt the fatigue setting in slightly. God, she should have stretched more or maybe just not flailed that thing over her head. ‘It’s a miracle I didn’t pull anything,’ she thought to herself. Regardless, she carefully reentered the cafe from the back door and returned to Himari, who had ordered a little cake in the time she was gone. Himari sniffed the air as she approached, then scrunched up her nose. “Why do you smell like smoke?”
Tomoe paused a bit nervously, unsure how to answer that. “Uh… Someone… was smoking in the bathroom. Yeah, it was real bad.”
“Well, it’s all over you now. You DEFINITELY need to shower when you get home.”
“Was planning on it. Now, what all did I miss? You were blowing up my phone.”
“Well…!” As Himari started going on about everything that just happened, Tomoe’s thoughts drifted elsewhere. What was that thing, anyway? Where did it even come from? Why did it show up? How many more are there? She was slowly starting to realize that it wouldn’t be easy to lead this new double life of hers. She’d definitely need to tell her friends at some point. Just as soon as she could figure out how, that is…