"And so let our wills unite, gather for the fight, for Valhalla..."
"In this world of fallen strife, crest and trough of life, for Fallafar..."
Tonight, all over the world, was the night of Halloween. Celebrated in the West by children going out to houses in costumes asking for candy from strangers, who if generous enough would donate their own sweets. It was a holiday of innocence there, and a way for everyone to dress up as their favourite characters, commonly from various parts of pop culture. People would wake up stuffed with candies, or spend the mornings counting the candies they received and consuming them one by one. It was a night of spooky things, of haunted houses, and of ghosts and other manifestations of witchcraft.
In Japan, however, the tradition was much less about children wanting sweets or spooky things. What was much more appealing was the concept of costume, of cosplay. An equally hysterical event that is increasingly celebrated in the streets of nighttime Japan, focusing on the intricacies of costume and craft. Everyone was already used to cosplay in Japan, and this was merely a night for others to indulge in that as well. It is not a tradition in Japan, but it is a very new phenomenon that many people want to enjoy. It was the trend, and it was the fun night out.
This was, to say the very least, a night of hysteria and insanity, and a night of indulgence and play. And even as conspiracies were unfolding in other places, not dissimilar to those described in ghost stories, those who held the fate of the world in order were enjoying themselves as well.
In Shibuya, people were walking across the Scramble Crossing, as was custom. However, the streets were much more active tonight--there were the people coming home late from their workplaces, waiting for the lights to flash. There were people dressed in costume, taunting each other and singing at the top of their lungs to the speakers that were brought along with them. There were people who had their Pokécoms out, photographing the various costumes that they encountered, and the way that the lights of nighttime Shibuya bounced off the various assets in these costumes.
The lights turned green, and people rushed across the crossings. Though there seemed to be a particular direction that people were heading, towards the voice of someone.
"And so let my heart's desires, the ones which come with darkness,"
"Let them flutter with demonry, attract the whole world of wight,"
On an platform, stood the singer of the band Phantasm, the well-famed FES. She was known for her entrancing performances, often leading to her crowds in a hypnotic sort of trance that motivated her only to perform more. Nobody seemed to doubt her words, and she was like a Messiah to all of these people.
However, she was only one of the Seven Holy Black Knights that were in Shibuya, and tonight was one of the rare nights where they had reunited under the banner of Halloween.
As FES finished her song and a break was announced, she walked down from the stage, only to vanish into a flutter of butterflies. Some people rubbed their eyes, unable to believe what they had seen. They thought that she was standing on stage, but somehow she had disappeared amidst an illusion. Perhaps they were just simply too drunk to comprehend what happened. One homeless man hollered loudly about something about his royalty and took another shot of his alcohol, going back to incoherent speech patterns.
Meanwhile, FES herself appeared in front of an apartment flat, satisfied with how the concert was going. She had seemed to lift her audience of the sins they bore, and they in turn had kept her show going longer. However, she wanted to spend time with her friends too.
"Ayase! You came just in time! How was the concert?"
"Bishi, Ayase!" The two girls who greeted Ayase were respectively dressed as Erin-Fray Orgel and Seira Orgel of the Blood Tune anime. One held Seira's famed staff in her hand, while the other held a bag of Gero Froggies to hand out.
"Good evening, Ayase."
"Tutturu~ Ayaya!" These two girls were respectively dressed up as well...one was dressed up as a fantasy school girl, while one wasn't really dressed up at all. She was just wearing a lab coat, and she was also happening to give the other one a piggyback ride.
"Good evening, Miss Ayase!" This girl was dressed as a serial killer. Her glasses seemed to glimmer in the evening light. She locked arms with FES, and almost had a murderous light in her eyes.
FES smiled. It was nice to be reunited with the Order of the Black Knights, the seven people who were present here in Shibuya, and endowed with duty. "Good evening all. I'm surprised that Miss Hatano was able to make it to Japan."
"I'm here until January, so I thought it would be a good break to take and visit."
"Sena wanted to spend time with all of you soooo much!"
"Shut up, Kozue." Sena turned her face away in shame.
FES smiled ever so slightly. "Where's Takumi?"
"Oh, Taku? He says he's getting his school uniform," Rimi exclaimed.
FES stared indifferently. "School uniform?"
Nanami crossed her arms, leaning her head against Rimi's exposed shoulder. "I told him it was stupid to cosplay as himself! Just because my brother's a famous ESPer now, does not allow him the right to make himself more of a target!"
"I don't care, I think Takuwu looks great amazing cool in the uniform!"
Before Sena could interject over the usage of Takuwu which FES personally cringed at, all of the girls heard a loud scream from the building. "I'm here! I'm here!"
When Takumi Nishijou of Shibuya emerged from the entrance, the girls were all clearly surprised.
"Taku, isn't that just the avatar you play in ESO2?" Rimi asked.
Takumi crossed his arms. "And?"
All of the girls let out a sigh of relief. Takumi's costume could have been a lot worse.
"Anyway, it seems that all seven of the Holy Order of the Black Knights have been united." FES raised her chin, and stared off into the sky, starless from the street lights surrounding them all. "Shall we streak the desires and insanities from these people, and purge them of their unforgivable sins?"
Everyone nodded. With the flashes of six magical swords otherwise deemed nonsense outside of fantasy, Ayase raised her blade, and a stream of purple butterflies soared through the streets of Shibuya, multiplying in amount and showering the people of Shibuya. Various other flashes of lights, including one certain light that came not from a sword, but still strong enough to manifest through others' wills, soared across Shibuya.
To purge humanity of sins and allow the world to fall into a beautiful paradise, free to choice and thought. That was the message left behind.
"Let the festivities begin."
Meanwhile, on the other side of Tokyo, a certain maid café was becoming extremely active. There, a group of eccentric adults sat around a table, raising their cups of alcohol up and cheering to toast.
After they all took a drink, one particular member of the table stood up.
"Now then, my glorious lab! Tonight is the night we can run free of the Organisation, the night where the frightful ravens of Odin turn blind, and the night where identity may transcend space and time! So for the halls of gracious Udon--"
"Odin," someone whispered.
"Shut up, Christina, my stomach is currently ravenous for nourishment. Anyway! For the halls of gracious Odin, let us free the world of tyranny!"
Another toast made, cups once again raised, and more alcohol ingested into their systems.
The lab members had all gathered in May Queen Nyan Nyan, celebrating the night of Halloween with a drunk spirit. Some of them were dressed up, some of them not so much. Okabe claimed that his lab coat was enough costume to fool the Organisation or whatever, and for tonight, everyone indulged in going along with him for the spirit of Halloween or whatnot. Kurisu hadn't dressed up either. She claimed that she didn't bother with childish traditions like Halloween, but everyone knew that she really had just forgotten to prepare. No one blamed her, she was always busy.
Mayuri was dressed up as an angel, with a bangle on her right hand. She was in charge of holding Okabe's phone tonight, in case he used it as a prop way too much, which was probably going to happen anyway. Her Stardust Handshake seemed to charm any of the people who came across her, and everyone seemed to fall in love with her immediately.
Daru was dressed up like a large Gero Froggy, incidentally. No one was sure why, but he apparently claimed that a friend had told him to do so out of a dare. Kurisu apparently laughed out loud when he said this, but she refused to explain further. "That stupid otaku," she said when prompted.
Moeka was dressed up as a witch, and she had a whole broomstick by her as well. She stayed fairly silent, though occasionally typing rapidly on their smartphone to show the group that she was really excited and happy about the festival.
Luka had decided to dress up as a bunny girl, which no one judged him for. He pulled the look off really well, which was surprising, but then again he was always the most feminine person out of the group, even if he was a boy. He could embrace the most feminine of outfits and wasn't afraid of doing so. For some reason, Kurisu always muttered something about being ashamed of herself in comparison to how well Luka dressed, turning away and blushing.
Faris hadn't dressed up really, but she dressed daily as a cat maid anyway. Besides, she was telling her own ghost stories, and the way she told stories was always legendary. She even got on top of the table to tell one of them, turning out the lights for the whole café, and everyone applauded when she had finished her story. It was phenomenal, and everyone knew Okabe was jealous of that particular skill.
"Hashida," Kurisu said after swallowing, "how 's your daughter doing?"
"Yuki is taking her out to go trick or treat with her cosplayer friends. Why didn't you join them by the way, Mayushii?"
Mayuri cocked her head to the side, confused. "Because I wanted to spend time with the lab!"
That was reasonable for everyone. Everyone continued to eat, talking about whatever came up. It had been a while since everyone in the lab was able to gather in place at one time.
"I wonder how Nae is doing right now," Luka said.
"I'm sure she's having a wonderful time!" Mayuri exclaimed!
In Tanegashima, everyone gathered around the shoddy Halloween light display.
"Kai, press the switch! 3, 2, 1!"
"I already pressed it."
Aki stomped her foot down. "Damnit, Kai! You have no sense of dramatic flair!"
Subaru coughed in the distance. "She's right."
Kai shook his head and watched the display. It still hadn't come up.
"Frau, are you sure you--"
"Yes," Frau groaned, "now shut up and leave me alone. I only came out here because you dragged me out here you virgin, OK."
Suddenly, the LED display flickered. Everyone held their breath, watching as the lights came on, displaying a Jack o' Lantern on it, with the words "Happy Halloween, Robotics Club!" on the front.
"I-it came on!"
"Yes!" Aki walked to the front of the sign. "And that, boys and girls, is the power of love and romance! Our hearts convinced the electronic soul to come alive! Yahoo!"
Despite Aki's overly enthusiastic exaggeration, everyone was smiling as well. Unlike the city life, where people danced around in costumes, they were just celebrating a simple little pumpkin display. It was nice to see everyone reunited again, even if they had all graduated from the Robotics Club. After all, they were the group that had all come together despite their different interests, and they had been able to create something they loved under the banner of robotics. Just the five of them, all together.
"Everyone, I'm here!" The sound of a skidding bike, and a female voice, everyone knew exactly who had arrived to the party.
Subaru quickly hid behind Koujiro, who seemed to have a smug grin on her face now. "Virgin."
Kai and Aki waved to the newcomer. "Welcome to the party, Miss Tennouji!" They said in unison.
Getting off her bike, Nae walked over to them, taking off her helmet while doing so. "Whoa. That's spooky. You guys spoke at the same time."
The two looked at each other, and they laughed. It was a spooky coincidence, sure. It was a strange thing. But perhaps that was the spirit of Halloween.
"Hey, how come none of you dressed up for tonight?"
Junna spoke up. "We d-don't usually do costumes as, as much here for Halloween. In fact, I-I think only the kids really celebrate it. My brothers will dress up and go with our grandad for alcohol though, so that's it."
Nae shook her head. "That's a shame. In France, my father would dress up with his friends and go asking others for candy all the time! Anyway, I brought you all something! Remember that bamboo copter?"
"Oh, the one we found about two years ago?" Aki asked. "Didn't you say you were going to do something special with it?"
"Yeah! I made it into something cool!" Nae took it out from her bag, and she raised the copter into the air. "Now it can drop glowing candies in the shape of a pumpkin across the runway! Watch!"
The copter took to the air, carrying a glowing Jack o' Lantern beneath it. It started to drop candies one by one, and everyone marvelled at the sight of candies slowly forming a pumpkin shape. It was fascinating, and it was really coordinated well.
Then everyone heard a spark, and as they looked up, the copter seemed to drop from the sky into the ground. Aki seemed to suddenly panic, and she ran towards the direction of the copter. "No, my baby!"
Kai stood up, running after Aki like a parent and his child. "Aki! Don't hurt yourself!"
"I know!" Aki leapt for the copter, and she grabbed it out of the air, saving it from a horrible crash landing. She herself fell down though, and everyone immediately started getting worried. They knew that Aki wasn't the best physically.
Kai was the first one to rush over. "Are you okay, Aki?"
"I'm fine! Don't worry about me!" Aki busted a grin, flashing a thumbs up. "I saved the copter!"
A sigh of relief was heard amongst everyone. Aki not being hurt was a good thing, it would be terrible for them to come out with someone injured from tonight.
Nae noticed something. "Oh! I didn't include enough candies! The pumpkin is missing a patch over here! That's an oversight, huh?"
"Here!" Junna took out candy from her pocket and laid it next to the pattern. She stepped back. "Whoa."
Everyone looked at the pattern formed by all the precious candies. It was cute, and it was nice. It was reminiscent of the mundaneness that everyone seemed to find in this island, and something that people had long needed.
"This is so beautiful, Miss Tennouji!" Aki took Nae's hands and shook them. "Thank you for this gift!"
"It's my pleasure! I'm glad I could spend this wonderful night with all of you here!"
As the laughter rose, and the lights slowly went out in the houses of the island, the Robotics Club still stayed up, telling each other about the wonderful stories that they had experienced while gone, and reuniting over the small things that made them belong to this island. A night of spook, but also a night of reunion.
Back in Shibuya, there were reportings of odd lights in Shibuya. People assumed this mostly to just be attributed to the weird things people were pulling off during Halloween, and so they paid no attention to the dark butterflies or the Seira figurines that seemed to be everywhere.
One particular group of adults were still going out for Halloween though, even if it was getting quite late.
"Uki! Have a safe trip with Yuto and your sister, will you?"
"I'll be back by midnight, don't worry!"
"Why am I the irresponsible one?!"
"Bye!" Hinae laughed as she shut the door close, watching as her friends left the house to go trick or treating. "So, Hana! Do you want to stay home and watch a scary movie with me?" She jumped to the sofa. "We can have fun too, right darling?"
"Yeah..." Hana whispered to herself. "That sounds nice."
"Great! Let me find something that's good."
The two found a suitable movie, and they started watching it. Something like Raiders of the Fetishism Ark, whatever it was called.
About ten minutes in, Hinae heard a knocking on the door. She groaned and got up from her comfortable spot in her seat next to Hana, greeting the door. "Hello? Did you guys already come back early, and did you get no candy? Haha! You losers--"
"Oi." A stern scientist stood at the door. "I'm not here for games."
"Oh, Miss Kunosato!" Hinae was surprised. Out of all the people she expected to see tonight, she was definitely not on her list. "What are you doing here?"
"I thought I might come to join you here and gather more data on the inner workings of how humans celebrate Halloween, is all. Nothing more than that."
Hinae smugly grinned. "Oho, you've got nobody to spend the night with?"
Mio didn't miss a beat. "Shut up. This is my say, and it's final."
"Well, for one, I think we'd quite welcome another player in this charade of movie watching! In fact, we could probably play some kind of parlour game with three people, I imagine! Hohoho, where might we end up after such a night of three girls together, I wonder?"
"Don't let your mind get too dirty," Mio warned, as she took off her hood and jacket. Hana gasped audibly, and Hinae was shocked too.
"Mio...why are you wearing cat ears?”
“I don’t judge your outfits, you don’t get to judge mine.” Mio crossed her arms, and she sat right where Hinae had sat beforehand. “I have a personal interest in genetically creating catgirls, what’s wrong?”
“Hey! That’s my seat, how dare you! It was warm too!” Hinae rushed to the sofa, and she started pushing and pulling at Mio, trying to get her out of her seat.
“Hey, watch it! Shouldn’t you be more courteous as a host?”
“This isn’t even my house! We borrowed it from—”
Another knock at the door. The three fell silent, and Hinae looked outside again. Surely it wasn’t him…?
“Hey! Will anyone open this damn door!?”
“Will ya shut up?!” Hinae opened the door, growling. “You guys are so annoying! Why won’t you—”
Her voice slowly drained to nothing as she saw who was in front of her.
FES. FES of Phantasm. It was unmistakable.
“Jeez, you guys are so uncooperative! We just wanted to spread the joy with Gero Froggies!” The girl dressed as…was it Erin or Seira Orgel? Hinae never really followed that anime much, so she wouldn’t know. Anyway, she held out a bag of Gero Froggies. Hinae was in awe and shock, and it didn’t cross her mind what she was doing as she took three Gero Froggies.
“F-F-FES? The real one?”
The one who appeared to be FES simply stood there silent.
“Bishi? Hey Taku, did we lose Sena and the others?”
“I think Sena, Yua and Kozue went the other direction. I don’t remember.”
Wait a minute, that voice was familiar. Was it—
“Neidhardt?” Hana stood up from her seat, surprised and rushing to the door as well.
“Takumi.” Mio walked to the door as well, surprised. “I didn’t expect us to meet so soon.”
“You know him?!”
“Connections from a few months ago,” Mio said offhandedly. “Had to do with personal work. What are you doing here?”
“I’m doing things for Halloween! Let me!” The one whose name was Takumi sounded exasperated like he was being scolded by a child.
“Jeez, Taku! Look what you’ve done!”
“My brother is famous here?” The shorter girl seemed surprised, and she looked towards FES for answers.
“Perhaps it is the fate of the Seven Black Knights to have such an eventful encounter with the children of the new age,” FES ominously said.
Whatever that meant, Hinae had no idea, but she was immediately drawn in by the idea. “Would you like to come in? I’d like to ask you so many questions!”
Her audience seemed surprised at such a request, but then the pink-haired girl shrugged. “Why not? It would be wonderful to make some new friends! The more chaos, the merrier!”
A night full of contempt. A night full of illusion.
But a night full of reunions, and a night of spirit.
This was what it meant to be. This was what Halloween was.
This was what it meant to be part of an adventure.