Megami No Hanabira

Day 0:

Ordinary Day

(Disclaimer: I do not own Sono Hanabira ni Kuchizuke Wo, nor Shin Megami Tensei Devil Survivor.)

And I would like to take this opportunity to give a thank-you to Blargel for taking the time to Beta-Read this!


"Call it what you will-a revelation from God or a curse of the Demon King.

The fact remains that our world came to an end.

A heretic called upon an unearthly light, and devastation ensued.

Chaos crawled out of the depths of the ocean, from the black abyss.

Death upon death... Nothing but death in this barren land.

Who can we pray to? There are only demons and fiends here..."

- The Journal of a Man Who Wandered into Another World


Bleeeeah…I don't understand ANY of this!

Reo Kawamura fidgeted in her seat. She tapped her pencil. She twirled her hair. It was hopeless: no matter how long she stared at the problem in front of her, the answer danced out of reach. Stupid thing was probably blowing a raspberry at her too for good measure!

GOD, how she hated math!

It's not my fault, though…I could've studied for this! She thought bitterly. I could've probably answered this by now if Mai hadn't come over and…

Reo gave her head the most discreet turn she could, squinting to make out the dark-haired figure two rows over.

Eeyup. Just as Reo suspected, Mai was on FIRE. Her brow was furrowed in concentration as her pencil danced over the page, pausing a few times to work out a problem. Just looking at her, no one else would have ever suspected what she had done just the night before.

As luck would have it, Reo knew EXACTLY what had happened the night before. After all, she had taken part in it.

How is she doing it?! She thought incredulously. I'm so tired I can't think straight, and Mai's doing GREAT on this stupid Final! Don't tell me what we did last night SERIOUSLY got her in the zone for this; I thought that was just some lame excuse! Though now that I think about it…that would make a little bit of sense, considering I'm talking about the BIGGEST PERVERT IN THE WORLD! Gaaah! Mai, you DUMMY! This is YOUR fault!

Reo shook herself, focusing all of her attention on the unintelligible jumble of numbers in front of her. Getting angry at Mai wouldn't help her pass the final. She needed to focus.

Five seconds of intense concentration later, she was no closer to the answer, and NOW she felt the beginning of a migraine coming on. Fan-freakin'-tastic. Shaking her head, Reo put her pencil to the paper.

I'll guess…I'll GUESS…there's no way I can answer this question…it's my only shot…I've gotten enough of the other questions to pass anyway…probably…barely…gaaah, I am so SCREWED!


"Heeeeeyyyy! Reo!" Mai waved her arm frantically over her head, hoping that her diminutive blond lover could see her through the ocean of students filtering through the halls. "Reo, over here!"

The shorter girl looked up from her locker, giving a nod of confirmation as she pushed her way through the crowd over to Mai. The dark-haired girl looked her over, a concerned look crossing her features.

"Reo, what's wrong? You look miserable." Reo gave a heaving sigh.

"I didn't do well on the test…I just couldn't concentrate!"

Mai drew back, looking genuinely stunned. "What? That can't be right! The Mai Sawaguchi 100% Test Preparation Strategy should have worked…"

"YOUR 'STRATEGY' WAS HAVING SEX!" Reo exploded. "In fact, I think that's why I FAILED! I was too tired and sore to think straight, and I didn't get any studying done!"

Mai shrugged. "It worked for me. I'm pretty confident about my answers."

Reo crossed her arms, harrumphing. Mai giggled and draped an arm around her girlfriend, enjoying how Reo stiffened.

"Come on, Reo. We're on break now! Grumpiness has absolutely NO place in summer vacation!" She said triumphantly. Reo grumbled under her breath.

"Let's go to town. It's a great day out, and I think we owe ourselves a celebration." Mai continued. Reo's only response was more mumbling. Mai thought for a moment, and then a devious grin spread over her face.

"I'll buy you some gel-aaa-toooo…"

Reo froze, then turned to face Mai, pouting. "You think it's that easy to bribe me?"

Mai giggled again, guiding Reo to the door. "I KNOW it's that easy to bribe you, Reo."

"Mai, you dummy..." Reo muttered.

"I love you too."


"Mmmhh…" Reo sighed contentedly, spooning the last of her gelato into her mouth, eyes closed in bliss. "Delicious! I've said it before: laced with the fragrance of the Mediterranean!"

Mai picked at her own bowl. "You know how to turn a phrase, Reo…wish I could say the same about my serving. It's weird, I usually like watermelon. Must've been a bad batch or something." She mused. "Oh well, we got the whole summer ahead of us! My parents took my brothers out of town for a week, so it'll be just the two of us! And mark my words, I'm gonna savor every minute of it, Reo!"

Reo shot her girlfriend a sideways glance. "Oh, fantastic. An entire week of you doing nothing but picking on me. Goody goody." Mai snickered, throwing her serving of gelato into a nearby trash can.

"Oh, Reo, you know you like it…"

"I-I don't!" Reo snapped. Mai giggled.

"Heehee…you're stammering, Reo. It's so cute!" Mai took a look around the square, sizing up the different stores. "Now…where do we go next?"

Reo didn't answer.

"Reo?"

Again, no answer. Going for the silent treatment, huh…? Mai thought. I swear, that girl takes everything so personally…

"Alright, I'm sorry, Reo. That was mean of me. Reo?"

Silence. Mai turned to face her girlfriend.

"Re-Reo?!"

Mai turned around, her heart jumping. She was gone…Mai didn't even notice Reo had gone missing until she…!

Wait…there she is.

Mentally chastising herself for her paranoia, Mai pushed her way through the crowd to where the short blond girl was standing, watching something off in the distance. "Reo!" She groaned. "Jeez, don't run off like that!"

Reo was standing on her tiptoes to get a better look at something off in the distance. "What's with those guys…?" Mai tried to follow her gaze.

"Guys? Where?" She asked. Reo pointed.

"Them, over there."

Mai squinted in the general direction of Reo's finger. Now that she could see them, Mai felt a little stupid for not noticing. They were, in truth, kind of hard to miss.

There were five of them, huddled in a group over near a café, all wearing identical bright white hoodies with black crosses stitched on the back. They seemed to be having some manner of serious conversation, one that was apparently meant to be kept secret by the way they glanced up every now and again, scanning the crowd for anyone who may have been listening in. Mai shook her head in shock.

"Wha…are those HOODIES they're wearing?" She said incredulously. "It's gotta be like 90 degrees out! They'll boil themselves to death! And seriously, do they really think they're being enigmatic or something, a neon sign saying 'we're suspicious' would be more subtle!"

Reo hadn't taken her eyes off of them, and had set her jaw. "You think they're some kind of gang?"

Mai shrugged. "Who knows, they're not bothering anyone…" She said, putting a hand on Reo's shoulder. "Come on. So, where do you wanna go next?"

"I kinda wanna go home…" Reo said. "I'm exhausted."

Mai groaned. "Whaaat? But the day's not over yet!"

"I barely got any sleep last night, Mai!" Reo snapped. "And if I remember correctly, I think YOU had something to do with that."

Mai sighed. "Fine…we got the whole summer ahead of us anyway, right? Come on, I'll walk you home."

Reo gave one last look at the strange people by the café. "Yeah..."


While Reo found it hard for herself to open up to other people, she didn't consider herself a paranoid person, at least not in the sense that she saw assassins and muggers around every corner. That being said, she couldn't shake the feeling that those men by the diner were supremely bad news, particularly after she and Mai had passed at least four other groups of them on their way through the town square. Even Mai, who for all her book smarts could be the densest girl on the planet, seemed to pick up on this; she had increased their pace, and started making it a point to avoid eye contact with these strange, hooded people. Reo couldn't help but feel a sense of relief as they made it to the edge of the square.

Then they noticed four of the hooded people blocking the way.

Reo felt as if an iron glove had clenched around her stomach. Mai looked a little bit shaken, but she steeled herself and stepped forward, moving in front of the hooded people.

"Excuse us."

One of them looked her dead in the eye. It was, as one would suspect, a little difficult for Mai to make his face out: she could catch a little bit of a beard and the glint of light off one of his eyes. Not much of a face to make a conversation with, but it would have to do.

"We need to get through here. Reo's not feeling well and I need to take her home." Mai explained.
The man said something; it was brusque, mechanical, rehearsed, in a language that Mai didn't understand. It made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up.

"I don't understand what you're saying." She said. The man rolled his eyes, pulling a small book out of his pocket. Opening it, he skimmed over a page before snapping it shut and fixing Mai with a glare.

"No passing. Go back." He said simply.

"Wha-no passing?" Mai spluttered. "What do you mean 'no passing'? What's going on?"

"No passing." The man said again, pointing back to the square. "Go back."

It was then that Reo decided to make her presence known, stepping out from behind Mai and glaring between the four strange men.

"Hey!" She snapped. "Who the heck are you guys?! You can't block us off, I wanna go home!"

"No passing. Go back."

Reo clenched her fists, stepping forward with all the menace her tiny body could manage. "Get out of our way, you jerks-!"

The man moved like lightning, pulling something from his belt and swinging it at Reo's head: she gave a strangled gasp as she jumped backwards out of the way, tripping over her own feet and falling on her butt.

"REO!" Mai was instantly at her side, shielding her lover from the men as she glared up at them.
The man now held a long telescoping baton, pointing it threateningly at the two. His three friends were pulling out their own pieces, extending them with a series of clicks.

"No passing. Go back."

Mai pulled Reo to her feet, her heart thundering in her chest as her gaze flicked between the men. "A-alright…we're going! We're going!" She stammered. "C-come on, let's go, Reo!"

The men seemed to relax as the two put some distance between them. They were just starting to collapse their batons before they vanished behind a crowd of people.

"R-reo…are you…" Mai grabbed Reo's shoulder, looking her over for any serious injuries. Reo pushed her away, trying to swallow the lump in her throat.

"I'm fine…"

Mai took a deep breath, trying to calm her frantic heartbeat. "W-we gotta get out of here." She muttered, looking around desperately for any sign of the hooded people. "We need to get to the police, tell them what's going on."

"There's no way out." Reo clenched her fists. "Those guys have probably blocked everything off by now…"

Mai shook herself. "D-don't say that, Reo! I'll find a way out, you just watch!" She looked around the town square. It seemed as bustling and lively as it had ever been. Good…that was good. The fact that there wasn't some huge panic meant that the doomsday scenario of a full lockdown hadn't occurred yet.

There was a way out of the town square. There HAD to be.

"The hell d'ya mean I can't get out this way!"

An angry male voice caught the attention of the two. They looked up to see a businessman, red in the face and screaming himself hoarse at another set of hooded men, blocking off another road out of the square. Mai's heart sank…they really were being corralled in…

But who knows…the businessman looked ready to haul off and hit the hooded man. Enough confusion and the two of them could slip out.

"Reo, c'mon."

"You can't keep me here!" The businessman was screaming. "My break ends in fifteen minutes, d'ya know what the boss'll do to me if I'm not back by then?!"

Mai guided herself and Reo into position behind a table near the blockade, the two of them crouching down and watching intently. The businessman looked to be on the verge of a stroke, his anger seeming to bleed off of him and into the rest of the crowd: they were muttering among themselves, beginning to realize that they had a clear advantage in numbers. The hooded men seemed to sense the danger in the air: one of them was reaching for his belt and the billy club that hung there. Surprisingly enough, the one that the businessman was screaming at directly didn't look fazed in the slightest. He simply stood there, arms crossed, waiting for the man to finish his tirade before speaking in a calm, even tone.

"You can't get through here. Please step back." If the businessman looked angry before, he was positively beside himself now.

"Wha-you…IS THAT ALL YOU CAN EFFING SAY!? D'YA NOT SPEAK JAPANESE, YOU BROKEN GODDAMN RECORD?!"

Mai's fingers tightened on the table. "Any second now, Reo." She hissed out of the side of her mouth. "That guy looks like he's ready to blow his top, and as soon as he does, we run. We run and we don't look back. Got it?"

The man grabbed his tie, jerking it off his collar and stuffing it in his pocket. The hooded man's hand flicked to the billy club on his belt. Mai's legs tensed….

"AAAAAAAGH! NOOOOOOOO! H-HELP MEEEEEEEE!"

A bloodcurdling scream caught everyone's attention, as a horrified, disheveled-looking man came bursting through the crowd, falling to his knees in front of the hooded men.

"P-PLEASE, YOU GOTTA HELP ME! IT CAME OUT OF MY PHONE! IT'S GONNA KILL-"

A cry went up over the crowd: something had launched itself over their heads, zeroing in on the man and raising something over its head…

*SCHLRKKK*

Reo let out an ear-piercing shriek. The crowd gasped as one. The hooded man backed away as the thing landed on the man in front of him, driving what it was holding into his back. The man crumpled in a heap to the ground, a puddle of red growing under him.

Mai felt all the warmth drain from the air. Reo had grabbed her arm, squeezing it as hard as she could. "M-m-ma-m-mai…?!" She babbled.

For a few seconds, nothing happened. It was as if time itself had stopped. Then someone let out a scream of terror, and all hell broke loose.

A hundred things happened at once. Mai grabbed onto Reo, holding on for dear life as what seemed to be a tsunami of human flesh erupted everywhere, borne from countless people desperately trying to flee from…something. Reo was shouting something: Mai could barely hear her for the noise. It was a horrible din of screaming people mixed with…animalistic roars?

Something came bursting through the crowd, snarling. Reo caught a glimpse of a pair of bloody claws, a long, sharp horn and a VERY large number of teeth before she felt herself shoved to the ground. The thing missed her by inches, smashing through the table with the twisting of metal and fiberglass.

"REO, RUN!"

Reo felt Mai's hand grasp her own, and then she was dragged through the crowd. The world was a blur, the sounds merged together into a cacophony of roars, screams of terror…

"STOP! GO BACK! YOU CAN'T…!"

Mai gave the hooded man no heed. Lowering her shoulder, she charged right into him. Taken totally off guard, the man was knocked off his feet. Mai stumbled for a second, almost falling, but she caught herself, continuing to drag her girlfriend behind her until...

"Whew…I…think…w-we're…clear…" Mai release Reo's hand, collapsing against the wall of the alley and gasping for breath. Reo crumpled to her knees, trembling like a machine on overload about to fly apart.

"R-Reo?"

Mai leaned down, placing a light hand on Reo's shoulder. "Hey…we're alright…we got away…Reo…?" She leaned around to look into Reo's eyes, and her blood turned to ice.
Reo was just…staring. Her gaze was dead, vacant, her eyes bulging in horror, tears streaming down her face as she gasped shallow, rapid breaths.

"Ohh…"

Reo stiffened, gasping as Mai wrapped her arms around her, burying her face in the blonde's neck. "Hey…hey…it's alright." She whispered. "It's alright…"

"M…maiiiiii…." Reo whispered, her voice cracking. "Th-that guy…he got…t-that THING…"

"It's alright, Reo…we got away…it's alright…we're safe…"

*Be-Beep*

Mai leaned back from Reo, her hand instinctually reaching for her hip. "W-was that my phone...? Jeez, and always at the WORST times…my girlfriend's TRAUMATIZED, if you…don't…mind."

Reo wiped her eyes, turning to look at Mai, who was staring at her phone. "What? What's the matter?"

"It's…um…it's downloading something." Mai muttered. "W-why is it downloading something? I didn't tell it to download something! I don't even think my phone was on…!" Her fingers flicked over the touchscreen, her expression becoming more scared with every passing second. "No…no! Stop downloading! I said STOP!"

*Be-Beep*

Reo flinched. That sound had come from HER phone…pulling it out and flipping it open, she stared in horror as the download bar inched its way across the screen.

"Okay, to stop downloads, you press and hold…" Reo pushed her finger to the progress bar, a stop download bar appearing on screen. Her heart soaring in relief, she hit the 'cancel' option.
Nothing happened. Reo's heart stopped. Progress bar, cancel, nothing. Progress bar, cancel, nothing. Progress bar, cancel, NOTHING…

"Mai..." Reo whispered, watching the progress bar approach the end of its route. "I can't stop it! What's going on…?!"

97 percent…98 percent…99…

*Ding*

Instantly the screen went black. Reo's stomach lurched in horror. Mai stared at her screen for a few seconds, tapped the power button a couple of times, and then swore under her breath.
"Reo…did your phone just die?"

Reo nodded. Mai dropped her arms limply to her sides, shaking her head. "It's an attack…it's…we're right in the middle of a freaking TERRORIST attack…! They've taken the square, they've killed communications…!"

*Ding*

The screen of her cell phone blinked on, Reo's following suit seconds later. Mai blinked, and then erupted in uproarious laughter.

"Ha…ahaha! HAHAHA! YES! Thank GOD for small miracles!"

But as Mai stared at the phone, her expression changed from ecstasy to confusion, from confusion to shock, and from shock to horror. Reo steeled herself, and then lifted her phone, her eyes roving over the white letters that had appeared on the screen:

Initializing Demon Summoning Application.
Prepare to defend yourself.
Peaceful days are over.
Let's Survive.


Mai's lungs felt as if they were about to burst. It wasn't easy to run in the dress shoes and skirt she had changed into for their leisurely walk around the town, let alone run at full tilt for three straight minutes. Reo was wheezing like she was about to pass out. But they couldn't stop. No way could they stop. If they stopped, the monsters would get them.

Monsters. They were being chased by monsters, monsters that had appeared in a flash of light from their cell phones. If it hadn't hissed and lunged menacingly at her throat, Mai probably would have found the thing chasing her somewhat cute: Her cell had summoned a cat, normal-looking enough except for a head of bright blue hear that clashed with its brown and white fur, and a conical sedge hat perched on its head. Reo's cell had brought forth what could only be described as a fairy: small enough to fit in the palm of Mai's hand, with a head of bright red hair, clad in a blue jumpsuit and bearing a pair of gossamer wings. It had giggled a soft, tinkling laugh, and then tried to fry them both with a bolt of lightning.

Mai looked up: someone was running towards them. Long pink hair tied in ponytails on either side of her head, dressed in the Saint Michael's uniform. She was red in the face, waving her arms over her head like a lunatic and screaming something…

"NO! NO, GO BACK! BACK THE OTHER WAY!"

A second later, something else rounded the corner. Reo let out a scream of terror.

The other student's pursuer? THIS one was downright hideous: it looked like a horrible, orange bipedal canine, clad a golden chest plate and loincloth. Saliva oozed from its snarling mouth, and clenched in its hand was a massive metal club.

The two of them screeched to a stop, turning to flee: a bolt of lightning crashed down in front of Mai, knocking her to the ground. A second later, the fairy-like creature and cat monster dropped down from the roof of a nearby building.

"Teehee…you won't escape us THAT easily!" The fairy laughed.

"If we kill you, we will have our freedom!" The cat monster declared.

"To that end…we will chase you until doomsday, to the ends of the earth if we have to!" A guttural voice that had to belong to the dog-monster snarled from behind them. "You will NEVER escape us!"

Their laughter rang through the alley as they closed in: Mai backed up, pulling Reo along with her until she found her back pressed against the wall. The dog-monster laughed rancorously.
"Nowhere to run! Nowhere to hide! Time to DIE, humans!"

Reo whimpered in terror: she had lost any composure she had retained up to this point, and buried her face in Mai's chest, unable to watch. The other student had slid down the wall, her gaze vacant: it looked to Mai as if she had passed out from fear.

"So afraid, so pathetic!" The fairy grinned triumphantly, raising her hands above her head as blue sparks crackled around them. "Don't worry…the pain will only last an instant."

Twisting loose from Reo's grip, Mai lunged at the fairy.

The monster faltered, looking stunned. "W-what the…?!"

"MAI, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!" Reo shrieked.

Mai clenched her fist, wound up, and before the fairy had time to react she had punched it with all her might. The creature let out a shriek of pain, the impact sending it tumbling end over end before it smacked against a garbage can, bouncing off and falling flat on its face.

"Owwwww…."

The other monsters looked completely stunned. So did Mai. She stared at her fist in wonderment for a few seconds, then looked up to face the other two monsters, pulling her right foot back and going into a fighting stance.

"Whhow in…She laid Pixie out with one punch! I thought humans were supposed to be soft and weak! What's going on?!" The cat screeched.

"Kabuso, RELAX!" The dog snapped. "The other two are soft and weak, just LOOK at them! We'll kill them, and then gang up on the tall one! She can't beat both of us!"

Mai tightened her fists, glaring daggers at the monsters. "You're NOT going to hurt Reo, you freaks!"

Kabuso, the cat, simply laughed, putting its paws together. "Just watch us!"

The monster grinned as it pulled its paws apart, revealing a ball of shimmering, green-tinted air that hovered between them.

"ZAN!" It shouted, launching the ball towards Mai.

Unsuspecting of this manner of attack, Mai was caught completely off-guard. The ball of wind smashed into her arms, forcing its way past them and into her chest. She gave a grunt of pain as she was blasted off her feet, Reo ducking out of the way before she smashed into the wall and slid down.

"MAI!" Reo dashed to her side, shaking her shoulder. "MAI?!"

Mai tried to answer, but all that came out was a strangled wheeze before she flopped over onto the ground, motionless.

"Mai?! MAI!? MAI, GET UP! SAY SOMETHING!"

"Look out!"

Reo heard the other student's yell, and threw herself to the ground as the dog swung its club at her: she felt the wind whooshing off the top of her head. The monster's deep, rasping laughter echoed off the walls.

"HAH! ONLY HUMAN! I WAS A FOOL TO THINK A MONKEY LIKE HER STOOD A CHANCE AGAINST A DEMON!" The beast crowed, standing triumphantly over Mai's prone form. It hefted its club, its lips pulling back into a fanged smile. "You're still a nuisance, though…better to kill you now!"

Reo's body moved on its own. Before she had realized what she was doing, she had snatched a garbage can lid, holding it like a shield. "H-hey, you big mutt!"

The dog blinked, turning to face her. Its eyes roved up and down her petite, trembling form, and its smile widened.

"What, you want to get involved, TINY?!" It chuckled, winding up with its club. Reo didn't even have time to react: it plowed right into her. She felt her feet leave the ground, and suddenly she was flying, the wind whistling past her ears and her vision a spinning blur before she hit the ground, tumbling and rolling to a stop.

"Losing your touch, Kobold?" Kabuso's voice seemed to come from the other side of a mattress.

"I-I don't know!" Though Reo's thoughts were pretty much an incoherent mush at this point, she could still hear the twinge of fear that had entered the dog's voice. "Something's wrong: that attack should have ripped her in half!"

'He's right…' The realization came to Reo slowly through the pain. 'I just took that club of his dead on…and I'm still alive. It hurt, but...I don't think he even BROKE anything…!' Suddenly, she gagged: a foul stench had invaded her nostrils, at the same time a heavy weight descended on her chest.

"I don't know how you survived my strike, human…" Kobold snarled from above her. "But let's see you stand up after I've crushed your sku-HEY!"

The weight was lifted: Reo scooted backwards as fast as she could. She looked up at the beast, and her blood turned to ice.

Mai had leapt onto the monster's back, grabbing it in a headlock and hanging on for dear life as it pitched and swung itself to and fro.

"Get OFF of me, human! I SAID LET GO!"

"Hold still, Kobold!" Kabuso had summoned a ball of crackling flames, and had squinted one eye shut, aiming. "I've got her! AGI!"

With a roar of anger, Kobold seized the bow on the back of Mai's dress, yanking her loose and tossing her at Reo. The two of them went crashing to the ground in a heap. Kabuso sent the ball of flames on its course about a second before he realized his intended target wasn't there anymore.

"Oh, crap! KOBOLD, LOOK OUT!"

The dog wheeled around, his eyes widening a second before he got a face full of fire. Thrashing wildly and howling with rage, Kobold staggered backwards and crumpled to the ground, twitching.

Kabuso blinked. "Oops…alright, let's try that again."He muttered, generating another ball of shimmering air. Reo disentangled herself from Mai, grabbing the garbage can lid and bracing herself.

"ZAN!"

The ball of air smashed into the lid with a resounding clang. Reo grimaced as a gust of wind roared past her ears, but other than that, she didn't think she was hurt.

'Alright…time to go on the offensive!'

Reo scrambled to her feet, fixing her foe with her steeliest glare. The creature stumbled back, bringing its paws up to guard itself. The cat looked terrified now, staring at the little blond girl like she was the devil himself.

"M-my attacks! My spells! No human's EVER survived an attack from a demon! You…what…what ARE you people!?" The creature babbled. Reo brought her makeshift weapon to bear, stepping forward.

"S-stay back! STAY AWAY FROM ME! ZAN!"

Reo lunged forward, dodging the ball of air and raising the lid over her head. With a battle cry, a grunt of pain and a loud metallic clang, she brought it down on Kabuso's head, knocking the creature on its face.

"Nrr…guhh…beaten by humans…this is humiliating…" Kabuso groaned, struggling to its feet. Reo jumped back, but the creature held up a paw.

"Relax. I know when I'm licked. And it doesn't matter whether I lose to a demon or a human: a loss is a loss…and there are rules."

"Rules?" Mai was getting to her feet, bracing herself against the wall and clutching her stomach. "What's it…talking about?"

"There are rules." grunted Kobold, the creature pushing itself up on its club. "Ancient rules. We are demons, creatures that value strength above all things, and are bound to serve a summoner who bests us in combat."

"I can't BELIEVE you two!" Pixie squeaked, rising shakily into the air. "You imbeciles actually got us Contracted to HUMANS! What kind of demon lets that happen?!" Kobold let out a guttural laugh.

"Let's not forget who fell FIRST, Pixie. Besides, these humans weathered our attacks and defeated us fair and square. Who knows: humans who could subdue demons on their own…they could prove to be interesting masters."

"M-masters?" The pink-haired girl's voice was hardly above a whisper. "W-we're…your MASTERS?" Kobold turned to face her: she flinched, but he merely lowered himself to one knee, planting his club into the ground and bowing his head.

"Human, state your name."

The girl mouthed wordlessly for a second, staring bug-eyed at the genuflecting beast. "Nanami. Oda Nanami." She finally blurted. Kobold grunted in affirmation.

"The pact is sealed: I am bound in service to thee, Oda Nanami, and I shall protect thee with my life. I am Kobold, the Touki! I shall wield this club in thy name!"

There was a flash of light, and Kobold vanished: Nanami stepped back as her cell phone flashed in her pocket. Pixie stared forlornly at the spot the dog had vanished, then rolled her eyes and turned to Reo.

"Ugh, let's just get this over with. Name?"

Reo snapped to attention, dropping the garbage can lid with a loud clang. "Kawamura Reo!" She said. Pixie shrugged.

"Well, congratulations, you're my master now. "

"Ahem…"

Pixie rounded on Kabuso, who had crossed his paws. "I don't think those are the words, Pixie."

"Oh, for the love of…you don't seriously expect me to say something so hokey!" Pixie snapped. Kobold's eyes narrowed into slits.

"Pixie…"

"Ugh, FINE!" Pixie snapped, dropping to one knee. "The pact is sealed: I am bound in service to thee, Kawamura Reo, and I shall protect thee with my life. I am Pixie, the Fairy and…I dunno, my magic is at your disposal, or something…whatever…"

Kabuso looked satisfied as Pixie vanished into Reo's cell phone, grumbling under her breath. He turned to Mai, lowering himself to one knee. "What is your name?"

"Sawaguchi Mai."

Kabuso nodded. "The pact is sealed: I am bound in service to thee, Sawaguchi Mai, and I shall protect thee with my life. I am Kabuso, the Beast. Use my powers as you deem fit."

There was a flash of light and Kabuso vanished into Mai's cell. Once again, silence fell over the alleyway. It was a GOOD silence, bringing with it a realization that slowly came to Mai as her thundering heart returned to normal.

"They're gone…" Mai whispered, more to herself in anything. "Ha…haha…those…those monsters are gone! We're alive! Reo, we're ALIVE!"

Reo let out a squawk of protest as Mai jumped forward, wrapping her arms around the blond and squeezing with all her might. "Ow, my arm! Geddoffme, dummy!"

This got Mai's attention, and she leaned back, holding Reo at arm's length and looking her over. "Oh, jeez, I forgot! Kobold got you good, didn't he…y-you're not hurt, are you?"

Reo swatted Mai's hand away as it inched towards her shirt. "I know what you're trying for, Mai! Jeez, and at a time like this, too...I'm fine. At least I had a shield; you took that cat-thing's attack dead on!" Her eyes narrowed. "And come to think of it…"

*Whack!* "Ow!"

"DON'T EVER SCARE ME LIKE THAT!" Reo shouted, tears springing to her eyes as Mai rubbed her arm where she had been smacked. "Flopping over like a rag doll and wheezing…! I thought you were dead, darn it! Jerk! Mai, you DUMMY!"

Mai waved a hand breezily, trying to ignore the dull ache in her abdomen and spine: now that the anesthetic effect of her adrenaline was wearing off, it was actually starting to hurt…

"Aah…knocked the wind out of me, that's all. I'm just glad you're okay…oh!"

Mai turned around, Reo leaning out from around her to follow her gaze to the other student. The pink haired girl was standing at the end of the alley; she had cupped her hands into a megaphone and was shouting at the top of her lungs.

"Onee-Sama! ONEE-SAMAAAAAA!"

"Hey!" Mai called. The girl looked up, startled. "You okay? You're not hurt, are you?"

Nanami, if Mai had heard her right, ran up to them, eyes wide and face pale. "P-please! You have to help me! Senpai's gone! We were walking home and those things came out of our cell phones and we ran away and I don't know where she is and...!"

Nanami didn't get to finish her thoughts: there was a commotion from somewhere behind her. Mai stared over her shoulder, and her blood went cold.

"Get behind me! Now!"

A hooded man was standing at the other end of the alley, shouting something. He rushed in towards the group, two more hoodie-clad figures following close behind. Mai raised an arm defensively, trying to block the man from the two girls behind her.

"Back o-...urgh!" Mai's threat choked off: the movement of her arm had sent a jolt of pain across her torso. Instantly, her other hand shot to her stomach, but the sudden movement just made it worse. Mai wobbled for a second, fighting not to pass out. The man darted forward, kneeling down and looking at her with an expression of pure...concern?

The man said something, again in a language that Mai didn't understand. Her heart started to calm itself: it didn't look like he wanted to hurt her, Reo, or Nanami. Now all she had to worry about was the language barrier.

"I don't...understand...what you're saying..." Mai said slowly, half to make herself as understandable as possible and half to keep the pain in her chest to a minimum. The man paused, then pulled out a cell phone and spoke something into it. Pressing something on the touchpad, he held it out to Mai.

"Does it hurt bad?"

It was stilted, mechanical, but Japanese nonetheless. And it was a yes-or-no question, even better. Mai shook her head. The man didn't seem convinced, but he shrugged nonetheless, pointing at the two girls behind her, speaking again into the phone.

"And them? Are they hurt?"

Mai shook her head again. The man nodded in affirmation, turning and saying something to his two comrades. They gave a grunt of agreement, giving snappy salutes and running off. The man held the phone to his mouth, speaking quickly now, his eyes flicking now and then to somewhere behind the girls.

"Alright, I know you have a lot of questions, and that you're scared. But right now you need to trust us. It's not safe here." The phone translated. "You need to follow us and stay close. If we can get you to the park, we'll answer all your questions. You understand. Just stay quiet, follow us, and we'll make sure you get out of this alive. Understand?"

"I-I think we should do what he says..." Nanami muttered. "What if there are more of those things out there?"

She had a point...Mai didn't know what to do. On one hand, these were the guys who nearly hurt her beloved Reo, which could never be forgiven. On the other, she was in no way ready to go another round with any more of those monsters...

Something on the man's arm beeped loudly. He shouted something, his eyes going wide as he pushed Mai out of the way, raising his arm over his head. Mai caught a glimpse of a flash of light and a feathered wing as something exploded at the other end of the alleyway. There was a horrible shriek of pain, shrill, deafening, and most certainly not human.

Mai turned back to the man. "Lead the way."


Reo's heart was flipping around like a rubber duck in a wave pool. The silence that the group traveled in was deafening. The positioning of the three mysterious people, one in front and two in back, made her feel less 'protected' and more 'surrounded'. Twice she had seen something inhuman dart into an alleyway or behind a building. And her feet were KILLING her. She was just about to ask just how much farther the men were going to drag them when something on each of the men's arms beeped loudly.

The man in front snapped something that Reo couldn't understand, but by the tone of it, it had to be pretty vile. The other two turned around, grabbing their batons and getting into defensive positions.

"W-what? What are you doing? What's going on? What's happening?" Nanami babbled.

At that moment, three shapes came crashing down from the sky. Nanami let out an ear-piercing shriek.

Kobolds. Three of them, snarling and hefting their clubs, stepped menacingly forward. If the hooded men felt an inkling of fear, they didn't show it (though it was hard to tell much of anything with their faces hidden), and they stared the creatures down, aiming their batons.

But then they stepped back: the air behind the kobolds had begun to ripple. Reo's hand shot out, squeezing Mai's. There was a burst of profane-looking energy, and a new demon towered over the group.

This one was the worst one yet; a huge, scowling face, mounted on a black and white star-shaped body that hovered about a foot off the ground. Twisted spikes of hair stuck out in all directions, a goatee spiraling out from the creature's chin. The monster took a deep breath through its nose, and then turned its gaze on the group.

"Ahhhhhh...LONG has it been since I, Kaiwan the Magnificent, graced the human world with my presence!" It boomed. "It does my heart good to see the cattle look as delectable as ever!"

"Lord Kaiwan...!" One of the Kobolds had turned, kneeling before the star-shaped abomination. "You need not expend the energy to slay these...fragile mortals. Let US kill them, and we shall give to you as tribute their brains and entrails!"

"Eww..." Reo muttered. The threat didn't seem to deter the men: they had gathered themselves, placing themselves between the creatures and the girls, raising their left arms high over their head. Kaiwan grinned a rotten-toothed smile.

"What's THIS? The cattle rebel against me? You think you can harm Kaiwan the Magnifi-?"

The air around the men erupted in light and power. Mai's hand instinctively shot up to cover her eyes. Kaiwan snarled, floating backwards as the Kobolds shielded their eyes. "Wh-what is this?!"

"Ohh...o-ooohhh..." Nanami gasped. "Look at that! Look!" Mai slowly lowered her hand.

'Whoa...!'

Humanoid beings had appeared out of thin air, clad in crimson armor wielding shields and spears, all held aloft by feathered, jet-black wings.

"T-they're amazing!" Nanami's eyes were wide and filled with tears, her smile stretching across her face. "They're beautiful! They're...ANGELS!"

Kaiwan scowled. "This doesn't make sense...why would angels serve..." the monster mused. Then it nodded, smirking. "Ahh...I see. So THIS is his game. Underhanded, yet ingenious."

"What doesn't make sense? What are you babbling about?!" Reo shouted. Kaiwan closed his eyes in satisfaction.

"It matters not." the monster said simply. "Those angels overestimate their power, as they always have. I, Kaiwan the Magnificent, shall feast on your flesh and your souls. Kobolds, KILL THEM!"

This was what the Kobolds were waiting for: brandishing their clubs, they roared as one. The hooded men raised their batons. The angels aimed their spears.

"Prepare yourselves, you feathered weaklings!"

One of the Kobolds darted forward, winding up to strike the angel. The next second, the monster was sent flying in several different directions at once. The angel had waved its spear in a fluid, graceful movement, carving up the Kobold with the precision of a scalpel. The other Kobolds recoiled as pieces of their ally thudded to the ground in front of them, evaporating suddenly into plumes of black smoke.

"Ah! Ahaha! HAHAHA!" Nanami cheered. "Awesome! They're amazing! Go, angels, go!"

"Er...Lord Kaiwan...?" One of the remaining Kobolds stammered, twitching its head in a manner that suggested it was trying to keep its eyes on both its master behind it and its opponents in front at once. "To kill one of us with such ease...these angels...they're stronger than you told us they were! Perhaps, o Kaiwan, you could lend us your powAAAAARGH!"

The creature howled in agony as the star-shaped demon let loose with a massive bolt of electricity, engulfing the canine and vaporizing it instantly. Kaiwan frowned deeply, glaring at the remaining Kobold, who had fallen on its rear and was trying to scuttle away from the pile of ash that used to be his comrade.

"The angels ARE weak, insect! You are merely WEAKER!" Kaiwan snapped. "Sigh...stand aside. Alas, if one wishes something done properly, one must do it himself."

The center angel raised its shield. "You shall not harm these children, Kaiwan. We shall rend your accursed body asunder."

Kaiwan gave a dark chuckle, sparks starting to dance over his body. "No being can 'rend' Kaiwan the Magnificent. But you're welcome to try!"

"So we shall!" Declared the angel, raising its spear. "Brothers, TOGETHER!"

The other two aimed their spears, the tips dancing with white energy. "HOLY DANCE!" They shouted as one,

An eruption of rainbow-colored energy blasts erupted from their spears, converging on Kawain. They exploded against him, the concussion from the each of the blasts shaking Mai's ribs and throwing up huge clouds of smoke.

"Pitiful. I, Kaiwan the Magnificent, have never been so insulted!"

A gust of wind blew the smoke away from within, pushing the angels back as they tried to stay in the air. The apparent leader of the divine trio stared in horror.

"That..that cannot BE!"

Kaiwan didn't seem to have a scratch on him. The monster's lips curled into a smile as it gazed hungrily at the angels. "Let Kaiwan the Magnificent, show you a REAL attack! ZIODYNE!"

Streams of blue-white electricity surged from the tips of Kaiwan's arms, converging into a single blast of energy that exploded against the center angel's shield. The divine warrior was shoved backwards, wings beating furiously as it tried to keep its balance under the onslaught of lightning.

The lead hooded man spun to face his friends, barking an order. Whatever he said, it didn't sit well with the others, and they shook their heads vehemently, beginning to speak. The man started screaming at the top of his lungs, gesticulating wildly, waving them in the direction of the road beyond Kaiwan. His friends hesitated for a second, hung their heads, and then returned their angels, waving their arms in a clear message to follow them.

Mai wasn't about to argue.

"Go! Run! Don't look back!"

Mai, Reo and Nanami took off running after the hooded men, dashing past the distracted demon. Kaiwan ceased his attack, turning his gaze to the fleeing schoolgirls and their escorts. This was all the opening the angel needed. Pumping its wings hard, it lunged forward, driving its spear into Kaiwan's eye.

There was no blood. The demon let out a shriek of pain, shaking its body and trying to dislodge the angel. Finally the demon let out an explosive burst of electricity, knocking the angel flat on its back. Mai and the others just kept running.

They didn't look back. Not even when an explosion shook the ground under their feet. Not even when Kaiwan's triumphant laughter echoed over the rooftops.


"Reo...we made it...! We're safe!"

Reo was almost too tired to care. As their hooded escorts led them into the park past a checkpoint guarded by three of their comrades, her knees knocked under her, and for a second she was afraid they wouldn't support her weight. It was the first time she had ever fought for her life, the first time she run so far and so fast at once, and now that the danger had (hopefully) passed, all the exhaustion seemed to be catching up and hitting her at once.

If this was what exercise felt like, she didn't like it one bit.

Mai gasped as Reo fell against her, clutching her arm desperately for support.. Under any normal circumstances, this would have sat just fine with her. But Reo's hands felt clammy, her face was bright red, and her breathing was labored.

"Mai...I can't...not another step."

"Oh god, Reo...you look horrible..." Mai whispered, wiping the sweat from the other's brow. "C'mon, stay with me...I'll get you into the shade..."

It was easier said than done. The park was packed with people, and the jostling of their movement nearly dislodged Reo from Mai's grasp a couple of times. But through sheer force of providence, there was a shady patch of grass under a spreading tree.

"Easy...easyyyy..." Mai set Reo down in the shade as slowly and carefully as she could. The blonde groaned as she sank into the grass, her eyes closed in bliss and the shadow of a smile of relief starting to form on her face. Mai started to breathe easy again.

"I saw some of those hooded guys handing out water bottles." Said Nanami. "I'll grab some for us."

"Good idea." Said Mai, casting a nervous glance over to Reo, pressing a hand to her forehead.. The bright red color had left her face, and her breathing was slowly returning to normal, but she still had that clammy, sweaty feel to her. "With all that running we did in this kind of weather, we need to watch our fluids."

"Got it."

Nanami walked off. Mai sighed, laying down on the grass next to Reo, allowing herself to relax for the first time in what felt like forever.

She wasn't quite sure when she dozed off, but the next thing she knew, someone was shaking her on the shoulder. She opened her eyes to see a plastic water bottle being held in front of her. "Thanks..." She murmured, taking the beverage with a nod. Sitting up, she uncapped it, watching as the pink-haired girl shook Reo awake, holding out another bottle to her.

Reo snatched it without a word, practically ripping the top off. Throwing her head back, she drained the bottle in three massive gulps.

Mai chuckled, holding out her bottle. "You want-"

Water went everywhere as Reo seized the bottle, lifting it to her mouth and sucking it dry, even patting the bottom a few times to make sure she got everything. The pink-haired girl chuckled, sitting down next to Mai and holding her own water bottle out.

"Here." She said, smiling. "You need it more than I do: you went toe-to-toe with those things and I just hung back..." Mai nodded as she took the bottle, uncapping it and taking a long drink.

"Whew...thanks. Actually, I don't think we've been formally introduced." She held her hand to the girl. "I'm Mai Sawaguchi. This is Reo Kawamura, my girlfriend." She gestured to the blonde next to her. "And I see you're Saint Michael's, too."

The girl shook Mai's hand, nodding. "Oda Nanami, first year. Well, second year, considering we just moved up...actually, I think we've met before."

Mai cast her mind around, trying to remember. "We did?" The girl nodded.

"I wanted your advice for love was, remember?"

Mai thought for a moment, then nodded in affirmation. "Oh, right! Jeez, that was a while ago...sorry I didn't remember right away, Nanami-san."

"No, no...it's alright."

The three sat in awkward silence for a few seconds.

"So now what?" Nanami mused, pulling her knees up to her chest and wrapping her arms around her legs.

"I don't think there's anything we CAN do at this point." Mai said bitterly. "According to the creepy hooded guys, there are monsters all over the city. Heh...this is like some crummy Shonen manga...or a video game. At the very least, the three of us are safe, so that's something."

Nanami's eyes went wide. "W-what did you say?" she gasped.

"That the three of us are safe?" Mai sat up. "Why, is something wrong?"

Nanami's hands had shot to her mouth, the color draining from her face. "Oh my god...Yuuna-sama! I can't believe I forgot! I still don't know if she's safe! If she's out there with those monsters, she could be...no! No, I have to find her!"

"Whoa, whoa! Wait a second!" Mai pushed herself upright as Nanami turned to leave. "Where do you think you're going?"

Nanami spun around, waving her arms. "If anything happened to Yuuna-sama, I don't know what I'd...I'm going to find her!" She turned to leave again

"The heck you are!" Mai got to her feet, dashing in front of Nanami and blocking her path. "The city is crawling with those monsters, you can't just run out there by yourself!"

Nanami glared up at her. "I'll be fine! If a monster attacks me, I'll run away!"

"Nanami-san, listen to me! You need to calm down, you're not thinking straight!"

"I AM thinking straight!" Nanami shrieked. "I needto find Yuuna-sama!"

Mai took a deep breath, weighing her words. "Do you know where she is? How do you plan on keeping her safe if you find her? What happens if there's a monster out there that's faster than you? What happens if you run into Kaiwan?"

Nanami opened her mouth, eager to respond. But then she paused, and closed it slowly, her cheeks reddening in embarrassment as she realized that Mai was absolutely right.

Mai nodded, putting a hand on her shoulder.

"I know how you feel, Nanami-san. If Reo was the one lost out there, I'd lose my mind worrying about her. But running off half-cocked into that warzone will get you killed. Will." She emphasized, noticing Nanami was about to speak again. "Listen, those hooded guys came to protect us from those monsters, and they escorted us here where it's safe. I bet there's a whole bunch of them out there right now looking for survivors. I'm not sure I trust them yet, but they obviously know what they're doing. What do you say we go up to them and ask them to keep an eye out for her?"

Nanami nodded, biting her bottom lip to keep it from trembling. Her hands had balled into quivering fists Mai hesitated for a second, then kneeled down and pulled her underclassman into a hug.

"It's gonna be alright, Nanami-san. We're gonna get through this."

"Unyunyunyunyunyu~!"

Mai jumped and relinquished her hold on Nanami instantly: she knew that sound, a rather bizarre-sounding quasi-growl that never failed to send chills down her spine. Sure enough, there she was: Reo was outwardly glaring at them, her eyes flicking from Nanami to Mai and back again. "Maiiiiii..."

"She was about to cry! I was being courteous!" Mai said quickly, cringing as her voice cracked from her nervousness. Reo's scowl deepened. "Look, her Senpai's missing, and we were thinking of asking some of those hooded guys if they've seen her. Reo...she's really scared. She really wants to make sure her Senpai's safe, it's obvious that she REALLY cares about her...!"

'Oh, please...for the love of all that's holy, take the hint...!'

Reo sighed, shrugging. The iron glove around Mai's stomach unclenched.

'That was close. Reo can hold a grudge better than anyone I know. She must be too tired to stay jealous...thank god for small miracles...'

"The guys I got water from spoke Japanese." Nanami's voice was nearly inaudible. "Maybe we can ask them."

"Good idea." Mai nodded. "At the very least, it'll be good to be able to hold an actual conversation with one of them. C'mon."

The three of them jostled their way through the park to where a series of long lines had formed.

"Just like that, people, keep it organized! There's no need to push!" A voice was shouting. "We have enough for everybody!"

"Shoot..." Mai muttered. "Those lines are huge...we'll be standing there all day before we have a chance to talk to them. There's a group over there, and they don't look like they're doing anything...excuse me!" Reo and Nanami had to run to keep up as Mai dashed over to the three hooded men. Or in this case the two unhooded young men and the old lady: this was progress. It gave her a face to talk to. Now if they could only speak Japanese...

"Excuse me, do you understand me?" Mai asked as the three of them looked up, crossing her fingers.

"That I can. Can I help you?" One of the men said, the other two shaking their head and walking away.

"Finally..." Mai muttered under her breath. "We just have a couple of questions." The man chuckled.

"A rather common sentiment. There are dark times ahead of us all, and you deserve to know what is about to transpire. Luckily, Father Phillips is preparing a speech to explain the situation to everyone in the park. Once the last of our rescue teams return to us, he shall begin."

Mai blinked. The man had a rather...embellished way of speaking, like he was acting in some kind of play. "Thanks for letting us know. We'll be sure to listen in."

The man bowed. "My pleasure."

"Actually, we'd like to know something else, too." Mai continued.

"Very well, then. What do you wish to know?"

Nanami stepped forward. "My Senpai. Yuuna-sama's missing and I don't know if she's safe."

"Tell me more about her, please. What does she look like?" The man asked, pulling out his cell phone and poising a stylus above it.

"Her name is Yuuna Matsubara. She's about this tall," Nanami gestured with her hand, "and she has long blonde hair down to here, she has blue eyes, and she's wearing a uniform just like mine."

The man hung his head. "I see. Unfortunately, I do not know her location offhand. My sincerest apologies, but there are many caught in this horror. It is all my brothers and sisters can do to keep track of the victims, both living and deceased. Do not despair, child." he chuckled, noticing the color drain from Nanami's face. "I may not know your Senpai's location at the moment, but I assure you, the Flock will do all we can to make sure you two are reunited."

Nanami didn't look happy, exactly, but there was a definite glimmer of hope in her eyes now.. "Thank you!"

"My pleasure." The man bowed again. "Forgive me, but I must continue to aid the rescue operations. Keep your faith strong, all of you. Farewell."

He turned and strode away. Reo pulled a face.

"'The Flock', huh?" She muttered.

"Eh, they're not TOO bad." Mai shrugged. "They've got a flair for the dramatic, I'll give them that, but they're not as shifty as I thought they were."

"The guy I got water from talked pretty normal. Maybe it's just this guy who's a ham." Nanami piped up.

Reo stepped in front of Mai, frowning. "Hey, hey! What's this about 'not as shifty', Mai? One of them tried to knock my head off, remember?"

"Yeah, but he told us, like, five times to back off. If he wanted to hurt us, he would have done it..." Mai muttered, bowing her head in thought. Suddenly she gasped, and a look of disgust fell over her face.

"Ohh...no WONDER they were boxing us in back there! They wanted to keep the monsters in one place so they could mop them up easily. When people broke through the blockade, they brought the monsters with them, so the Flock had to chase them down..."

"Jeez, they planned for everything, didn't they?" Reo crossed her arms. "These Flock people are really on top of things. They have angels in order to fight these monsters, they have supplies to feed the entire city, they have a safe area all ready for us...they even knew when and where this was going to happen, didn't they?"

Mai caught the current of venom in Reo's words and chuckled nervously. "That doesn't mean anything, Reo. We don't know anything about these guys besides their name and the fact they fight demons. They probably have some way of finding out if something like this was about to happen that we don't know about."

"Maybe..." Reo looked away, mumbling something.

"In any case..." Nanami said slowly. "That...Phillips guy is supposed to give a speech, right? I just hope HE clears things up."


The sun was starting to dip below the horizon, and a chill had entered the air when a booming voice over a loudspeaker caught the three's attention.

"Ladies and gentlemen! I know you're all probably wondering why you're here and what's going on. The last of our rescue teams has just reported in, and now our leader, Father Phillips, will explain exactly what happened. Thank you for your patience."

The people in the park fell silent at once. There was the sound of a microphone being handed off, and then a new voice spoke.

"Thank you, Brother Louis." The new voice was deep, powerful, and thick with a drawling, undefinable accent. "Ladies, and Gentlemen, my name is Father Archibald Phillips. I understand you're all frightened and confused. I hope to clear things up, so as to put your minds at ease, and make the journey back to your everyday lives a smooth one.

"My organization is known as The Flock, of which I am the latest in a long line of grandmasters. We've existed since medieval times, fighting behind the scenes to protect the human race from the greatest threat it has ever known: demons."

A chill ran through the crowd at the sound of the word, spats of disbelieving muttering beginning to break out.

"I understand it's hard for some of you to believe." Phillip's voice came again. "Hard to believe that such horrible beings could exist, let alone find their way into our world. But many of you, I assume, have seen these demons with your own eyes, and know what horrors they are capable of. We learned that the demons were about to strike here, and we attempted to avert a crisis. And, my friends, I must apologize. For we failed to prevent the outbreak.

"But fret not!" He boomed. "For We swear to you that we will not restuntil the scourge has been eradicated. Our organization has made a pact with God himself, and the angels he has trusted us with will protect you at any cost. I assure you all, peace WILL come again. For the moment, we merely ask your cooperation with us: this will be a difficult battle, and will require everyone working together. But I am confident it's a battle we'll be able to win. Thank you, and God bless you all! And oh yes: before I leave, if there is a Matsubara Yuuna in attendance, please come to the stage: someone is looking for you. That goes for everyone else. If you're missing family or friends, please come to the stage, and we will do our best to reunite you with the ones you care about."

There was a bit of scattered applause: most people seemed unsure what to make of it. Nanami was clapping wildly.

"Did you hear that?" She turned to Mai and Reo. "They remembered! They remembered to call for Yuuna-sama!"

Mai smiled. "Feeling a little better?" She asked.

"Yeah. At least I know they're looking for her." Nanami pulled her legs up again, resting her chin on her knees.

"I hope they find her..." Mai reached into her shirt pocket, pulling out her cell phone and booting it up. "I'm glad my family's out of town. At least I know they're safe. Might as well give them a call, though...tell them that I'm doing okay, all things considered..."

"It won't work." said Nanami. "I tried to turn my phone on our way here, but it spit out some error message and shut back off again. I would've called Yuuna-sama if I could."

"Darn, I'm getting the same thing..." Mai snapped her phone shut. "Jeez, whatever happened back there with those demons must have fried it or something. Well, we've done all we can do for now. We should get some sleep." She looked over to Reo, who had curled up on the grass, snoring quietly. "I'm completely bushed." Laying down next to Reo, she sighed in contentment and shoved a hand up the blonde's shirt.

"GAAAH!" Reo sat bolt upright with a shriek. "MAI! What was that for!?"

Mai giggled. "I was tired, so I was going to fall asleep! I've had a rough day, and I need all the 'you' I can get!"

"We're in public, dummy!" Reo snapped. "And furthermore, your hand was like an ice cube!"

"Oh...sorry about that." Mai brought her hands up to her mouth, breathing heavily into them a few times before turning back to Reo. "How's this?" She reached out for Reo's shirt.

"Get away! Mai, you dummy! Jerk! I'm sleeping over there!"

And with that, she got up and stormed away, plopping herself down in another patch of grass. She stayed there for about ten seconds before she got to her feet and walked back to the two.

"Aww, I knew you'd come around!" Mai giggled.

"That's not it!" Reo cast her mind around. "I-I heard it was gonna rain tonight. I wanna be under the tree so I don't get rained on!"

Mai cast a glance upwards: there wasn't a cloud in the starry night sky. "If you say so." She shrugged. "I promise I won't try anything funny. We can at least cuddle, right?" Reo lay down, rolling over to try to get comfortable.

"Whatever."

Good enough. Mai crawled over, draping an arm around Reo and pulling her close. "Good night, everyone..."

"Mmph...Good night, Mai..."

"Good night..." Nanami pulled the ribbons out of her hair as she stifled a yawn, then laid down in the grass, resting her head on her arms. It wasn't easy to get comfortable: she tossed and turned a good while before she found a spot that worked somewhat. Closing her eyes, she let out a deep sigh and tried to relax.

"GAAAH! MAI!"

"Sorry. Couldn't resist."

Nanami's grip on her own forearm tightened. 'Onee-Sama...please be safe...' She thought, as she felt herself drifting off into uneasy sleep.