Shirai Kuroko arrives back at her dormitory in pain from her wounds, and gratefully notes that Misaka Mikoto hasn't returned to their room yet. Carefully teleporting into her room, she begins to think about the hint given by the mysterious esper she just fought against. She remembers that Misaka returned very late that day, then that Kamijou Touma had shown up at the dorm. Afterwards, Misaka's stuffed bear was moved from under her bed, and there were strong winds and an explosion outside. Finally, there were rumors that the strongest Level 5 in Academy City was defeated that day. It seemed that Misaka was involved, because Shirai found one of the 'railgun' coins at the site of the battle, but she doesn't know what exactly happened.
She proceeds to treat her wounds by teleporting the offending objects out of her body and then applying an adhesive cream from Heaven Canceller. Meanwhile, she calls Uiharu Kazari for an update on the situation. Uiharu tells her that of the few teleporters in Academy City, only one has the ability to move distant objects with the ease that the mystery attacker had and has no alibi, a Level 4 named Musujime Awaki. She has the ability 'Move Point,' which allows her to teleport objects from arbitrary starting points, not just objects that she's touching. In addition, she is unable to teleport other teleporters, matching up with the battle strategy she exhibited.
However, Uiharu couldn't verify whether Tree Diagram was actually destroyed or not. Ostensibly, Academy City's shuttle's mission had nothing to do with Tree Diagram. The organization the luggage bag was stolen from did contact the authorities, saying that they want the luggage back, but that the contents were classified. Furthermore, she found that Musujime was rumored to be the way to get people in and out of the building purported to hold the general director of Academy City.
Shirai then decides to go after Musujime, but while still tending her wounds in the bathroom, Mikoto comes back to their room. Shirai, now curious about what Mikoto has been hiding, asks where she was, but Mikoto makes an excuse and leaves again. Shirai then emerges from the bathroom to prepare to leave in pursuit of Musujime.
On her way to Musujime's escape route, Uiharu calls and informs Shirai that Musujime is ranked level 4 simply because she is reluctant to teleport her own body. This originated from an accident she once had during testing where she lost control of her powers. This is Shirai's main advantage: she can teleport herself unlimited times, whereas Musujime can only do so three times in a row.
Shirai quickly learns exactly where Musujime is simply by heading towards the sound of thunder; all is quiet, and there are no storms, so the only possibility is that Misaka is currently in battle. She plans to appear in front of Misaka, but stops short and simply observes the fight from a safe distance.
Shirai observes the battlefield, which is at the location where some steel girders had collapsed on August 31st. An overturned bus lies near the partially rebuilt building, and the former occupants, who Shirai notes are either armed with the same weapons as the ten thieves earlier, or are Academy City espers, are hiding in the structure. She can also see Musujime Awaki. However, Misaka stands boldly in the open and uses her railgun to destroy the support pillars, showering the men with shrapnel and destabilizing those on higher levels, all precisely performed so there would be no deaths.
However, Musujime appears with the suitcase atop the structure, shielded by her unconscious comrades from the electrical attacks. She calmly reasons with Mikoto, but Mikoto simply angrily returns insults. Asking why Mikoto's getting angry, she points out that both of them are simply using their powers to hurt others in their favorite ways: Musujime stealing things, and Mikoto selfishly trying to stop the experiment. However, Mikoto replies that her anger is directed at herself rather than at Musujime, because not only are her efforts and those of the people who helped her going to be wasted, but she is unable to prevent others from getting involved, revealing that she knew that Kuroko had been hurt.
All of this talk is for naught, however, because neither girl stands down. Mikoto prepares an electrical attack, knowing that Musujime can't teleport herself away fast enough, but Musujime, suggesting that her human shield might be made up of innocents, distracts Mikoto long enough to escape with the luggage. It turns out that all of the people who made up the shield were the men Mikoto knocked out earlier, and she falls into despair. At this point, Shirai decides that as a fellow teleporter, it's her turn to take to the battlefield.
Between the Lines 3
In a hospital, rehabilitating from her brief battle with Accelerator and under treatment to extend her lifespan, Misaka 10032 worries about the information she is receiving from the Misaka Network. Other clones around the world confirm the rumors she has heard that 8 countries and 19 organizations have launched shuttles in order to recover the fragments of Tree Diagram. Furthermore, many of them are trying to steal the only salvageable fragment, which is currently located in Academy City.
She fears that if the fragment is rebuilt, the experiment might be restarted, putting the lives of the clones at risk, and wasting the efforts of Mikoto and Touma. So, despite her ill health, she leaves the hospital to figure out how to destroy it. Out of all of the Sisters still in Academy city, she is the nearest to Touma's dormitory except for Last Order, who is even weaker than she is.
While on her way, Last Order disconnects from the Misaka Network after deciding to search for 'that person' who left her alone. The others do not know that Last Order has been staying with Accelerator, so they are confused and worried by this development.
Misaka 10032 debates whether or not to ask Touma for help, but she realizes that if he found out that the experiments restarted, he would come rushing in anyway. She would rather provide him with more complete information, so that he can help more effectively. On the way, she notices that Mikoto is fighting nearby, and continues on to Touma's room.
By order of appearance:
- Shirai Kuroko
- Uiharu Kazari
- Misaka Mikoto
- Musujime Awaki
- Misaka 10032
- Last Order
- Kamijou Touma
- Index Librorum Prohibitorum
- Misaka 10854
- Misaka 16770
- Misaka 19999
- Misaka 20000
- Misaka 10044
- Misaka 14002
- Misaka 18820
- Misaka 10774
- Misaka 14458
- Misaka 19002
- Teleport - Shirai Kuroko, Level 4
- Electromaster (Railgun-variant) - Misaka Mikoto, Level 5
- Move Point - Musujime Awaki, Level 4