"Clique, Part 1" (派閥① Habatsu ①?) is the 40th chapter of the Toaru Kagaku no Railgun manga series.
On the 27th of August, Kongou Mitsuko begins her days at Tokiwadai Middle School. She mistakenly takes the bus to the school's external dormitory instead of its interior one. She eventually encounters Shirai Kuroko and receives correct directions from her. The two manage to offend each other and immediately start to argue (thus setting the basis of their relationship for the rest of the series). Refusing help from Kuroko on getting back, Kongou is once again completely lost.
Meanwhile, Misaka Mikoto is looking for a way to politely ditch Unabara Mitsuki, the grandson of the school chairman, who is accompanying her against her wishes. Mikoto sees Kongou and, recognising her as a fellow Tokiwadai student, pretends that she had a meeting with her to get away from Unabara. However, when Kongou asks for Mikoto's name, Mikoto mistakenly thinks she wants to know Unabara's and so gives his name. Kongou thus believes Misaka is Unabara Mitsuki (海原美月）. On learning Kongou is a transfer student, Mikoto decides to give Mitsuko a tour of the school, with Kongou never knowing Mikoto's real name (and Mikoto finding it too awkward to say it herself).
At a pet store, Mikoto is captivated by the sight of the cute pets. Kongou buys a dead rat to feed her pet snake Ekaterina, leaving Mikoto dumbfounded. They then go to a toy shop, where Mikoto shows interest in a teddy bear while Kongou reveals her preference for western dolls. Their next stop is a confectionery. Here Mikoto notices the netsuke attached to Kongou's purse, a memento of her father, which leads Mikoto to wonder where her father is and what he's doing. After this they visit other locations, where they try on hats and play pool together.
After the tour, Kongou begins to notice Mikoto is greeted by everyone she meets, and realizes she is someone who is admired by all. On reaching the internal dormitory, Mikoto has to immediately leave in order to make her own dormitory curfew. Kongou is left dejected, feeling she and Mikoto were still just pretending to be friends.
On the 1st of September, the school term begins. Kongou is once again lost in the school building and accidentally bumps into Wannai Kinuho and Awatsuki Maaya. Kongou quickly becomes acquainted with the pair, and the two swim club members suggest Kongou joins a clique to better adjust to the school. The three of them see Shokuhou Misaki's clique, the largest in the school. Kongou decides instead that she wants to form her own clique, to the surprise of the other two.
Later, on September 14th, Kongou and Kuroko are undergoing power testing together. Kongou tries to recruit Kuroko into her new faction. Kuroko not only refuses but warns Mitsuko about the foolishness of such a move, as she would simply be crushed by the existing cliques. Suddenly, there is a nearby explosion that sends water into the air. Kuroko explains that this was the testing of Tokiwadai's Ace, who will stop Kongou if she tries to selfishly make a clique. She asks Kongou if she is prepared to take that attack head-on.
The scene where Mitsuko tries to recruit Kuroko is adapted from the Prologue of Index Volume 8.
In order of appearance:
- Kongou Mitsuko
- Etzali (disguised as Unabara Mitsuki)
- Sakashima Michibata (cameo)
- Ringlet curl girl (cameo)
- Shokuhou Misaki (cameo)
- Aero Hand - Kongou Mitsuko, Level 4
- Academy City
- Horus Pet House
- Lime B (toy shop)
- This chapter is the first one in Railgun manga that does not employ a date as the title (except for the extra chapters).
- In this chapter, there is a great leap relative to the timeline of the Toaru Majutsu no Index light novels: the chapter starts before Volume 5 (possibly during or even before Volume 4), and its ending coincides with the prologue of Volume 8. That means that the plots concerning Mikoto and Kuroko in Volumes 5 and 6 simply do not appear in the Railgun manga.
- Netsuke are miniature sculptures that were invented in 17th-century Japan to serve a practical function.
"Are you prepared to take that ludicrous attack head-on?"