"Quickening" (胎動 Taidō?) is the 46th chapter of the Toaru Kagaku no Railgun manga series.
As the Balloon Hunter event progresses, Kobayashi Satori uses her telepathy to coordinate the rest of the Tokiwadai team in a plan to surround the opposing team. Just before she can give the signal, a toy spider dangles down in front of her face, causing her to send out a telepathic scream (incapacitating her teammates) and faint. The opposing team use this opportunity to pop their balloons. One of them takes out a notebook with information on the Tokiwadai competitors. Elsewhere, other Tokiwadai competitors follow the opponent to a muddy alley. Reluctant to dirty their shoes, they decide to go another way.
Watching on, one of the opposing team praises his teammate Baba Yoshio for his detailed information that has let them gain the upper hand. Baba acts modest and claims to have obtained the information from someone in the School Garden. They then head out to their next location. One competitor warns the others to be careful of (what they think is) Misaka Mikoto, due to her radar and powerful electricity. Another suggests simply avoiding her, since they don't need to eliminate all of the opposing team to win. Baba thinks to himself about a mission that he needs to carry out.
Misaka 10032 chases an enemy into an alley and pops her balloon despite the latter's attempt to hide. She explains how this alley was used in a certain experiment and so she is familiar with its layout. She looks at another enemy about to throw a ball at her, scaring him into fleeing (and falling through a fragile roof in the process). From a nearby staircase, Mikoto (disguising herself with a Gekota mask) watches 10032. She feels slightly sad at nobody being able to tell the difference between the two of them, then encourages 10032 to go all out. Shokuhou also watches 10032, via a TV screen.
Kongou Mitsuko has her balloon popped. She acts as though she's dying, telling her pet Ekaterina to only eat one rat per day, but stops once the event organisers tell her to move to the retire zone. The enemies she was fighting praise her for being able to take on seven of them by herself (which was helped by her being a transfer student, so they had little information on her). Word of this group's defeat reaches Baba, who uses this opportunity to convince the others that they need to beat Mikoto to win. His teammates are reluctant but he tells them there's a simple way to win.
10032 pursues an enemy, noting that she seems to be luring her into a trap. All of the remaining members of the opposing team surround her. At Baba's advice, they hold the balls in their hands instead of throwing them, so 10032 can't use her electricity to stop the balls without hitting someone (resulting in disqualification). While his teammates occult 10032's attention, Baba sends a tiny insect-shaped robot towards 10032. The clone's experience fighting an opponent who could kill with a touch allows her to avoid the enemies and she is about to retreat when she suddenly freezes. This opening results in her balloon being popped and Tokiwadai losing the event. Baba comments that his mission is complete.
The Tokiwadai Dorm Supervisor and Watanabe hear about Tokiwadai's first loss in the festival. They note that defeat will be a valuable lesson to their students. They also plan on punishing those who would prioritise not dirtying their clothes over the contest.
10032 (now holding her cat again) meets Mikoto in an alley and apologises for not being vigilant enough in the event. However, Mikoto only asks her whether she had fun (10032 did) and reassures 10032. She gives 10032 food coupons to buy lunch, tells her to have fun and leaves. 10032 wonders what food to buy, but soon loses consciousness. Misaki and Keitz Nokleben approach her.
In order of appearance
- Misaka 10032
- Misaka Mikoto
- Kongou Mitsuko
- Tokiwadai Dorm Supervisor
- Misaka 10032's cat
- Shokuhou Misaki
- Keitz Nokleben
- Electromaster (Railgun-variant) - Misaka Mikoto, Level 5