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Meet the Tsukiko Squad, an all-girls B Rank team consisting of four friends on their way to A Rank. There's attacker Amaya, nicknamed Maya, Tsukiko, the loud, funny, crazy, and at times, idiotic, leader of the squad; attacker Shana Lee, an American transfer who likes to tease her teammates and often gets completely starstruck when meeting A Ranks; shooter Eri Asano keeps the rest of her team serious, and comes up with their battle strategies; operator Kuni Ayugai is a self-proclaimed messy artist, with paint splattered clothes, teal streaked hair, neon green glasses, and a love of computer games. Together, this eclectic group will work their way through B Rank Wars, random encounters and the occasional all-nighter.
"Eri!" 13 year old Amaya Tsukiko yelled to her friend, racing down the halls of the middle school.
"What now, Maya?" 13 year old Eri Asano asked, seemingly annoyed, but the smile on her face gave her away.
"Who's got two thumbs and is the newest Border C Rank?" Maya grinned pointing at herself (with her index fingers). "This girl!"
"You're supposed to point at yourself with your thumbs." Eri said, giving her friend a look. "No congratulations?" Maya said.
"Of course I was getting there!" Eri said, giving Maya a playful slap on the arm. "That's awesome! You're so lucky! I've always wanted to be a Border agent!"
"It's not too late!" Maya said. "You can get in before the official thing in a month from now!" She grabbed her friend. "Let's go! Then, when we're both B Rank, we can form our own squad, and become A Rank!" "You really think we could do it?" Eri said.
"Of course we can! I know it!" Maya said, grinning. "The trick would be finding another member and an operator, but we can figure that out later!"
"Let's do it!" Eri said, her and Maya high-fiving. "One thing. Don't blast it out there. Ishida might hear." "Oh no, not the Border nut!" Maya said. "Eh, we'll take care of that tomorrow. Let's go!"
15 year old Shana Lee walked into the big, intimidating Border base in the center of Mikado City. She played with the grip shape of the Trigger in the kangaroo pocket of her sweatshirt. After a little walking, she found the registration desk.
"How can I help you?" said the person behind the desk.
"I'm foreign and here to register." Shana said.
"Did your branch director send us a note?" said Desk Person.
"Yeah." Shana said.
"Name, Squad, Base, Branch, Country, please."
"Shana Lee, Morgan Squad, New York, Northeastern, United States of America."
"Note received. Please hand me your Trigger."
Shana fished it out of her pocket and put it on the desk.
Desk Person took it, scanned it, typed a few things in, then handed it back to Shana. "You're all set!"
"Thanks." Shana said.
She walked away from the desk, and while wandering around, accidentally crashed into someone.
"Oh my gosh!" Shana exclaimed in English. "I'm so-" She mentally slapped herself before switching to Japanese. "I'm so sorry."
"Haha, no problem." said the person Shana bumped into, a girl about her age with long red-brown hair tied in two braids. "Your English sounds better than most people I know. You American?"
"Yeah." Shana said.
"No wonder you looked lost. This must be your first day." the girl said.
"Yeah." Shana said. "You're pretty perceptive."
"Yeah. It's my Side Effect. I read people really easily." the girl said with a smile. "It also appears you're looking for a squad. Funny enough, my squad's got an opening."
"That would be?" Shana said, raising an eyebrow.
"I can't believe I forgot to introduce myself!" the girl said, giving herself a little forehead slap. "I'm Maya Tsukiko, captain of the Tsukiko Squad."
"Shana Lee. Nice to meet you."
"Wanna come meet my other member?" Maya asked.
Shana shrugged. "Why not?"
"Hey Maya." Shana said, poking her squad leader. "Check this out."
Eri leaned over. "What?"
"There's an operator looking for a team. I just got a notification from the boards." Shana said.
"Nice." Eri said.
"Awesome! What's her name?" Maya asked.
"I think she goes to our school." Eri said.
"Yeah. I have English with her." Maya said. "Which I am failing..."
"Maya!" Eri said, giving her friend a slap on the arm.
"If you need help, you've got an American who speaks fluent English right here." Shana said, raising her hand.
"Gah, whatever." Maya said. "Let's go find her! Where's the board say she is?"
"She signed in near the vending machines." Shana said.
Maya groaned. "Not the vending machines!"
"Why not the vending machines?" Shana asked.
"A couple weeks ago, some white-haired shrimp from Tamakoma beat her after Maya beat his squad leader." Eri explained. "People often hang out near the vending machines, and she really doesn't want to run into them."
"I beat Four Eyes, then Shrimp gets me. So. Annoying. I'll get him next time." Maya ranted.
Eri grabbed Maya and dragged her out of the booth in the common area where the three were sitting. "Come on! Which would you rather do, get an operator, or not run into Shrimp and Four Eyes?"
"Eri..." Maya whined. "Fine."
At the vending machines, Maya, Eri and Shana found a girl in an operator uniform getting a drink. She had dark brown hair streaked with teal. When she turned around, she jumped and backed into the vending machine, almost spilling her drink.
"Oh, sorry." the girl said. "You scared me." She took a look at Shana, then Eri, her gaze finally landing on Maya. "Hey, aren't you the girl in my English class who copied off my notes?"
Maya touched her neck awkwardly as her two teammates glared at her. "Haha, yeah. That's me."
"I didn't know you were in Border."
"I didn't know you were." Maya said. "Anyway, my team needs an operator, and you're an operator looking for a team. It's a win-win!"
"Sounds good to me." the girl said. "I might just want to know who you guys are first..."
"Whoops." Maya said. "We're the Tsukiko Squad. I'm Amaya Tsukiko, leader and attacker. You can call me Maya. These two do anyway." She pointed at Eri and Shana.
"I'm Eri Asano, shooter. Our leader's a pretty big idiot, but she's the only one we got, so we deal with it." Eri said, jerking her thumb at Maya.
"Hey!" Maya said, slapping Eri on the arm.
"I'm Shana Lee, attacker. I'm American, and I don't get why Maya hasn't told me that she's failing English. Ignore those two." Shana said, pointing towards a bickering Maya and Eri. "They're best friends, but they fight like a married couple."
"Haha, sounds like I'll fit right in." the girl said. "I'm Kuni Ayugai."
"I really like your hair." Eri said.
"Thanks." Kuni said, nudging her teal-streaked hair, which sat in a messy bun on the back of her neck. "I break so many rules at school and in Border because of it, but eh. It's expression. Also, don't be surprised if I'm frequently covered in random splotches. I'm a messy artist."
Maya smiled. "I definitely think you'll fit right in, Kuni."
Chapter 1- The Day We've All Been Waiting For Edit
"Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes!" Maya yelled, running into her squad's operating room.
Her other three squad members were spread out doing whatever. Kuni sat in her operating chair, crosslegged, a sketch pad in her lap, occasionally adjusting the neon green rimmed glasses on her nose. She had a thinking expression on her face, and every minute or so her pencil scribbled on the paper. Shana was doing her homework on one of the chairs lining a coffee table, occasionally taking a sip from her soda. Eri was laying on the couch on her stomach, reading what appeared to be manga. When their leader came in yelling, the three girls looked up from what they were doing.
"What's so exciting?" Shana asked.
"Oh, I think I know what you mean." Kuni said smiling.
"It's..." Maya said, pausing for effect. "B RANK WARS!!!"
"B Rank Wars. Right." Eri said. "Who are you on a revenge mission against, now, Maya?"
"That white-haired shrimp from Tamakoma! And..." Maya said, thinking of something. "Six other people."
"Geez, Maya, you get into way too many solo Rank Battles." Kuni said.
"Haha yeah." Maya said. "Next up, beat Ko Murakami!"
"Isn't Murakami-senpai the #4 ranked attacker?" Eri asked.
"Yeah." Maya said. "Don't you think you might be biting off more than you can chew?" Eri said.
"Maybe..." Maya said. "But if we win our first two B Rank Wars battles, we might have a chance of facing Suzunari-1. And then I'll get him."
"Who're our opponents anyway?" Shana asked.
"I'll get that." Kuni said, spinning her chair around and typing something into her computer. "We're Ranked at 19. We're facing Rank 20 Tadeshi Squad and Rank 21 Matano Squad."
"Kuni, try and get all the info you can." Eri said.
"Gotcha, Eri!" Kuni said, turning back to her computer.
"Maya, do not challenge anyone from those teams to a solo Rank Battle under any circumstances. You hear me?" Eri said.
"Fine." Maya grumped.
"Shana and I will handle strategy." Eri said.
"Gotcha." Shana said.
"Let's do this thing!" Maya yelled.
Chapter 2- Our First Battle Edit
After preparing a week in advance, Maya, Shana, Eri and Kuni were ready.
Standing in their room before the battle, Maya, Shana and Eri were in their squad uniforms, a red t-shirt with a black vest over it with the Border emblem, ready to be beamed in.
"Let's do this thing!" Maya yelled.
Give it a little, and Tsukiko Squad completely creamed their opponents.
Back in the operating room, high-fives were passed around between the teammates.
"Awesome job guys!" Kuni said. "We did it!"
"What's our rank now?" Maya asked.
"15!" Kuni said excitedly.
"Yes! We're up four places!" Shana said. "Who're our next opponents?"
"Ranked 18 Chano Squad and Ranked 14 Kakizaki Squad." Kuni said.
"Fumika Teruya from Kakizaki Squad is in one of my classes." Eri said.
"Makoto Chano's in one of my classes." Shana said. "The first time I met her, I mistook her for a boy... There is no coming back from that."
Shana's teammates laughed.
"We're moving up! This is our chance! Let's do this!" Maya yelled, in her typical upbeat three word motivations.
"Four way high five?" Shana said.
Maya nodded. "Four way high five."
Chapter 3 - Watching, Meeting and Other Rank Wars Weirdness Edit
The next day, Kuni and Eri, as their team's two strategists, were working on a plan for the battle. Shana and Maya decided to use this time for themselves, and go watch the first of the Round 2 battles, a hectic fight between Arafune Squad, Suwa Squad and Mikumo Squad, aka Tamakoma-2. Shana and Maya took their seats where everyone was watching the battle unfolding before them. Just as Maya glanced at the screen, her mouth dropped as she stood up and shouted "That's the shrimp who beat me!"
Shana grabbed Maya's arm and pulled her down. "Maya, what the heck!?"
"Sorry, Shay." Maya said. "See that guy with white hair?"
"The one staring down Arafune?" Shana said.
"Yeah. That was the shrimp who beat me in a solo Rank Battle. Twice!" Maya said. "And the Four Eyes in the blue jacket? That's the guy who I beat and the leader of Shrimp's squad."
A look crossed Shana's eyes as things matched up in her head. "Wait a second, Maya. You mean to tell me that you faced down both Osamu Mikumo and Yuma Kuga of Tamakoma-2 aka the Mikumo Squad, their leader and ace?"
"I didn't remember their names..." Maya said. "But wait, how do you know this? Has Eri been making you memorize stuff?"
Shana looked at Maya. "No! I've been in the same class as those two for two years! Of course I'd know a little!" she said.
"Hey redhead!" came a voice next to Maya. "You've fought Yuma?"
The two attackers looked to their right and froze up. The person sitting next to Maya was none other then Yosuke Yoneya, the attacker of the A Rank Miwa Squad. Shana was frozen (and inside completely starstruck).
But Maya, being herself said, "Yeah. The shrimp beat me, 4 me, 6 him."
Shana grabbed her leader. "You do realize that's Yosuke Yoneya, A Rank attacker of the Miwa Squad, right?" she whispered. "How can you talk so casually?"
"Looks like someone's starstruck." Maya smirked. "Chill, Shay. Just follow my lead." She turned towards Yoneya. "By the way, Yoneya-senpai, I'm Maya Tsukiko, captain of the Tsukiko Squad. The starstruck one next to me is my teammate Shana Lee." Maya nudged Shana.
"Hi, Yoneya... -senpai." she quickly added. Being from the US, Shana forgot to use honorifics from time to time (and often doesn't use them when talking comfortably). "I'm Shana."
"Nice to meet you guys." Yoneya said.
"Hey Yosuke, who you talking to?" said Kohei Izumi, sticking his head in.
After first contact, Shana lost her shyness. She whispered to Maya. "We've got to tell Eri about this. She'll be so jealous."
"Oh so." Maya said, smirking.
"These two girls. The redhead faced Yuma!" Yoneya said to Izumi. "Wish I could get a battle in there. The shrimp promised me."
"You guys B Rank?" Izumi asked Maya and Shana.
"Yeah." Shana said. "We're the part of the Tsukiko Squad. She's our leader. I'm an attacker, and our shooter and operator are planning for our Rank War in two days."
"Sounds like they got the short end of the stick." Izumi said. "What rank is your squad?"
Shana gulped. "15." Here she was, talking to two A Ranks (casually, might she add), and she was measly B Rank 15.
"But we're trying to work our way up!" Maya cut in. "You guys'll be seeing us as A Ranks soon!"
"Can't wait." Yoneya said. "Hey Maya, right?"
"Yeah?" she said.
"You wanna battle sometime?" he asked.
Inside, Maya squealed (maybe a little outside too). But she had an appearance to keep up. "Yeah, sure." she said, attempting to stay cool. "Sounds like fun!"
In an attempt to stop her squad leader from making another rash decision, Shana said, "Kuni and Eri are working while we're hanging out and rubbing shoulders with A Ranks. Shouldn't we at least get them a video of the action?"
"Good idea." Maya said.
"I've got it covered." Shana said. "Kuni'll want the battle. She loves this stuff."
"The battle is pretty good." Maya said. "Tamakoma-2 vs Suwa Squad vs Arafune Squad."
"Yeah." Shana said. "Eri'll want the commentary. Midorikawa and Azuma. That's pretty good as far as commentary goes."
"Now we should probably stop talking or we'll interrupt the video."
Chapter 4- Getting Down to Business (Not) Edit
After the battle ended, Maya and Shana ran back to the operating room to tell Kuni and Eri about the battle and their encounter with Yoneya and Izumi. When they opened the door, instead of finding their two teammates working, the attackers found Kuni on her computer, playing games, and Eri with her nose in a manga. "I thought you guys would be working!" Maya said. "So you didn't have to do anything?" Kuni said. "Not a chance." "We did work a little." Eri said. "But we weren't going to let you guys have all the fun!" "Anyway, we have a lot to tell you guys." Maya said, walking over to one of the chairs. Well, attempting to. She stepped on an empty soda can on the floor, and tripped, falling over. The room erupted with laughter, some even from Maya herself. "Now to that story." Maya said, standing up. "We got a video for you guys." "That battle was intense!" Shana chimed in. "Tamakoma-2 vs Suwa Squad vs Arafune Squad!" "Apparently the white haired shrimp and Four Eyes I fought are from Tamakoma-2, according to Shana." Maya said. "But that wasn't even the best part!" "Guess who we were sitting next to?" Shana said. "Can we say it together?" Maya asked Shana. The American nodded. At this point, Kuni and Eri were feeling a mix of confusion, worry and curiosity. The two attackers turned towards their teammates and said, "We were sitting next to Yosuke Yoneya and Kohei Izumi!" With the mention of the second name, Eri went ballistic. "What!?!? You guys sat next to Izumi-senpai!?!?" "And Yoneya-senpai." Maya said. "He challenged me to a solo Rank War." Kuni almost spit out her water. "What!!??" she exclaimed. "Yosuke Yoneya, A Rank attacker of the A Rank 7 Miwa Squad, challenged you to a solo Rank War!?" "Yep!" Maya said, grinning. "What a turn of events, huh?" Eri said. "I thought, if anything, you would challenge him, Maya." "I haven't challenged an A Rank yet, but I was planning to." Maya said, putting her hands behind her head. "Good for me, Yoneya-senpai challenged me before I could challenge him or another A Rank." "You do realize who you're up against, right?" Shana said. "Yep!" Maya said. "Didn't you say that earlier?" "Less talk, more work!" Eri said, glaring at her squad leader. "Our battle's in only a couple days!" The redhead in question said, "In that case, let's get crackin'!"
Chapter 5- Upwards, Backwards, Forwards (Flashback, Shana's POV) Edit
Us sitting down, getting to work reminded me slightly of a moment shortly after Kuni joined the team. We were all in the same positions, and we were asking questions to get to know Kuni a little more. "Why did you become an operator anyway?" Maya asked. "I actually wanted to be a fighter. Well, a trapper." Kuni replied. "But they don't really teach you that stuff in C Rank training, and I didn't have enough Trion, skill, or strength to be a good agent. They pulled me over and asked me to be an operator shortly after I tried to become a C Rank. I agreed, because I just wanted to help Border out in anyway I could. I became an operator, and while I was looking for a team, a new all-girls B Rank team approached me, looking for an operator. They took me in, and that brings us here!" "I never would of thought you'd be the type to be a fighter." I said. "I guess Border didn't either, which led me here. I never would've met you guys if I was a fighter." Kuni said with a smile. "But I still look up to trappers. People like Mai Kitagawa of Kako Squad, or Shinji Fuyushima. He's a trapper, and the leader of the A Rank No. 2 squad, with Isami Toma, the No. 1 sniper!" "I get that." Eri said. "I look up to a lot of A Ranks myself, in hopes of one day being like them. Nozomi Kako, Kohei Izumi, Masataka Ninomiya, even though he's kinda sour. They're the best shooters in Border. I want to be like them." "Oh yeah!" Maya said. "Eri has a crush on Kohei Izumi!" I laughed. Eri turned red. "I do not!" she yelled. "I look up to Izumi-senpai as a role model. He's the No. 2 shooter!" "And only a year older than us..." Maya said, smirking. "You shouldn't be talking, Miss Has-A-Crush-On-Kei-Tachikawa." Eri said, returning the favor. Now Maya was red. "You have a crush on Kei Tachikawa?" I laughed. "Eri's making stuff up!" Maya yelled. "I don't have a crush on him! He's just my role model!" "Uh huh." Kuni smiled. "So Tachikawa-senpai is your role model, when Izumi-senpai is Eri's crush." "Er..." Maya said. "Fine." Eri smiled. "But in all seriousness..." Maya began. Eri cut her off. "Nothing is serious with you, Maya." "Whatever." Maya said. "As I was saying, Tachikawa-senpai is my role model. I'm a dual Kogetsu fighter, and they don't really teach you that in C Rank training. I originally learned how to use a Kogetsu one-handed in training. When I finally became a B Rank, before I met Shana and Kuni, I saw Tachikawa-senpai fight in a video or something. It was so cool, and I thought 'I want to learn how to do that.' But there was nowhere I could learn, so I taught myself. I watched more videos of Tachikawa-senpai, and tried my hardest to imitate him. That's mainly how I got to where I am today, along with trial and error." "I never knew that, Maya." I said. "Now you do." Maya said. "Hey Shay, who's your role model?" "Hmm..." I said. "Probably Elissa Reed. She's one of the best attackers of the Northeastern Branch, and uses the same Trigger I do. I really wish I could meet her, but she's from the Boston Base, about four hours by car from New York." "I actually didn't know that there was Border in America, or any other country, until I met you." Eri said. "I thought it was a Japan-only thing." "Many things are Japan-only, but Border isn't one of them. Wherever there's Neighbors, there's Border." I said. "The attacks in America began around the same time as the Japanese ones, about four years ago. No one had ever seen anything like it. It was crazier and scarier than Hurricane Sandy." My teammates looked at me quizzically. "Long story short, Hurricane Sandy was probably the worst storm to hit the East Coast ever, and the worst storm to hit us since Hurricane Katrina seven years before." I explained. "I've got plenty of stories. If you want to know about life in America, I'm a wealth of knowledge." As a joke, I switched over to English. "And I can help our squad leader from failing English." "Uh... What did you just say, Shay?" Maya asked. Kuni and Eri, who got what I said, laughed. I smiled too. We were a team. We were going to stick together, and go far together. I could tell.
Chapter 6- Tsukiko Squad, Meet Tamakoma Edit
A good 15 minutes late, Kuni came dashing in, panting, her bun half falling out. "Sorry I'm late!" Kuni said. "I was in an operator meeting. We're getting new software!" Her three teammates stared at her. None of them really cared about Kuni's operator rambles. "Wait, guys, I'm not just rambling!" Kuni said. "So I was talking to Shiori-senpai. And Yoneya-senpai is her cousin, and he was telling her about Maya and Shana. And Shiori-senpai came up to me and said 'You're on the Tsukiko Squad, right?' So I said, 'Yeah!' Shiori-senpai said, 'Yosuke ran into two of your squad members. I'm certainly interested in meeting them, and I'm sure the rest of Tamakoma wouldn't mind either. You guys want to come over for dinner?'" "Us? Go to Tamakoma? For dinner?" Shana asked. "Yeah!" Kuni said. "It'll be cool! According to Shiori-senpai, the guys at Tamakoma are really nice, friendly and funny!" "Shay, isn't Tamakoma Shrimp's branch?" Maya asked the American. "Yeah." Shana said. "Please don't tell me you're planning on challenging him." "Of course not." Maya said, though it seemed like she was planning on it. "Anyway, we better get going! I don't want to be late!" Kuni said, grabbing her teammates and practically dragging them to Tamakoma. The four girls stopped outside the building. "Woah." Shana said. "Who knew Tamakoma was so... defunct?" Eri said. "C'mon guys!" Kuni said, motioning for her friends. "It may look all abandoned, but the base is inside!" The three fighters looked at each other, shrugged, and followed their operator. Going inside, they walked into a home-like area with a kitchen and a table, as well as a couch and TV. When they walked in, Shiori Usami, the operator for both Tamakoma squads, immediately saw Kuni. "Oh, Kuni-chan!" Shiori exclaimed. "You came! And just in time too! I was about to start cooking!" "Actually, Reiji was." a man with messy black hair in a blue jacket said. "You can't cook, Shiori." Shiori started playfully hitting him, saying, "Torimaru! You always tease me!" Kuni, Maya, Shana and Eri were just left standing there awkwardly. "No need to be shy, this is normal." said a man with brown hair and a teal jacket. "Welcome to Tamakoma. I'm Elite Agent Yuichi Jin." "Oh! I forgot to introduce everyone!" Shiori said. "Guys! We have guests!" "Wait, we have guests? Who?" said a girl with strawberry blonde hair in a red sweater, looking around, her eyes finally landing on the four girls. "Oh." "Hey, don't be disappointed, lady!" Maya said. "We're the Tsukiko Squad. Shiori-senpai invited us." "Why'd you invite them anyway, Shiori?" the girl asked. "Kuni-chan's my operating kohai. I wanted to meet the rest of her squad, and I thought you guys might want to, too." Shiori said. Three people stood up to introduce themselves to the four. First was a boy with black hair and glasses. "I'm Osamu Mikumo, nice to meet you." "I'm Yuma Kuga." said a short boy with white hair. Maya, of course, knew this guy. "Hey! You're the Shrimp who beat me!" "Did I?" Yuma said. "I don't remember fighting you." "You should!" Maya said. "I'm Amaya Tsukiko. We've fought twice." "Oh wait, I do remember you." Yuma said. "I beat you, right, Amaya?" "Yeah." she sighed. "But if you're going to call me by my first name, call me Maya. Most people do anyway." The third person was a young girl with black hair. "I'm Chika Amatori. Nice to meet you." "I'm Shana Lee. Nice to meet you all." "I'm Eri Asano. Nice to meet you." "Shiori already introduced me, but I'm Kuni Ayugai. The redhead next to me is our squad leader, Amaya Tsukiko." The round of introduction tag continued. The black-haired man from before was Kyosuke Karasuma. The strawberry blonde girl was Kirie Konami. A man with red-brown hair in a grey shirt, and the one cooking, was Reiji Kizaki. The girls were also introduced to Branch Director Rindo. A small boy came riding in on an animal. That was Yotaro, and his pet capybara, Raijimaru. "It looks like you've met the whole crew now." Shiori said. "Reiji, is the food ready yet?" "It's done." he replied. "Reiji-san's a really good cook." Chika said. When everyone was sitting down and eating, the conversation began to flow naturally. The Tamakoma people asked questions to which the Tsukiko Squad girls answered, then posed questions to Tamakoma. And of course, Jin had to ask his signature line, "Want a fried rice cracker?" Overall, it was a good night in Tamakoma. As Maya, Kuni, Shana and Eri left, Maya said, "We have got to go back there sometime."