"What do you think is taking so long?"

"Did you see their armour?"

"What was that thing they had with them? A robot?"

"No joke, I swear that one had a robot eye..."

All anyone could talk about was the Imperials. They had marched through the city an hour or so ago, a lot more of a parade than the quick step they had done last time. An obvious tactic, Maka mused to herself.

Class had been cancelled. Obviously. Even if the school was open, nobody would be paying attention. Maka had tried to busy herself at the library, but even there it had been packed with people reading every book conceivable about space and extraterrestrial life. She had admitted defeat after just ten minutes, deciding instead to enjoy the sun, and another chapter of Dark side of the Moon. The park was fairly crowded, but at least the open air broke up the noise a bit.

"You're reading a book? Now?"

She didn't even have to look up to imagine Soul's dumbfounded expression. Turning a page, she glanced him over and smiled slightly.

"And you're playing basketball. Tell me, how's that different?" When he shrugged and didn't reply, she nodded and put her attention back to what mattered. After a second of uncomfortable quiet, Soul crashed on the bench as well, tossing the ball to some people Maka didn't know.

"So. Still recovering from being wrong?" He taunted, and Maka shook her head before giving him a push. She didn't have the energy to hit him.

"It's not just about that. Everything we thought we knew about the Universe, about humanity- gone. Apparently even Lord Death was surprised by them showing up."

Soul pondered that, a thoughtful expression appearing on his face for the first time in a while.

"Fair. Oh well. At least we know we aren't alo- hold up."

He had spotted something, and was rising from his seat to get a better look. Maka glanced over her book and saw what had cut him off.

One of the imperials, one of the soldiers who had camped outside the city, had skidded into the park and was jogging in their direction. His face was flushed red and as he screeched to a halt he spoke frantically.

"Excuse me, civilians. I know I'm not meant to talk to you, but- have you seen a, a techpriest anywhere?" He half shouted the question, looking around at the various small groups of people who sat in shock at his sudden appearance. Maka composed herself and cleared her throat.

"A what?" She asked, trying to hide the confusion in her voice. The Imperial smacked his helmet and muttered something under his breath.

"Um, he's dressed in red. Bionic eye. Metal arm coming from his back. He has a little flying skull with him." The Imperial managed to blurt out before a small crowd had assembled around him, talking amongst themselves and asking him questions.

"Uh, can't say that we have." Soul replied after a moment of stunned silence, and the Imperial shook his head.

"Alright. Well, uhm, I've got to get going. If the Commissar finds out about this I won't have dinner for a week." And, turning sharply on his heel, he pushed through the crowd and sprinted off. A couple of people followed him, taking pictures or videos on their phones. The rest dispersed, chatting excitedly.

Maka just sat. In a stunned silence, she turned to Soul and raised an eyebrow.

"First encounters. I thought they'd be a bit more exciting than this." she said, before closing her book. "Should we... follow him?"

Well. It's been a while. I know this chapter was absolutely not worth the wait. I've been bogged down at work a lot recently and my first child was born yesterday. I can't express how sorry I am for making you all wait. I'll make a more concentrated effort to write more often, now that I have a basic idea of how the plot will turn out (hint: ultraviolence) but I can't make any promises.

I love you all.

(Also, a complimentary FUCK YOU to GW. I will write this godawful fanfiction to spite their shitty new fanmade content policy.)