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Life.2 Edit

Part 1 Edit

"A-a D-d-d, D-d-d-d . . . D-de-devil!"

Yep, a devil. The one girl that considers taking to me, other than looking for Directions towards a peeping pervert who caught them changing in the early morning, turned out to not even be human. I don't even want to delve deeper than that, I might end finding out she not even a girl. Eek!

I might have been fine, maybe even excited if she was just a magician, heck having allies with superpowers to top that off would have been fine. But sprouting wings, bat-like wings, that just eliminated the possibility of being human off the list completely.

"Yeah, I guess I am. By the way, sorry about lying to you."

Oh crap, she's still being nice. Why, is she pretending nothing happened, like this is a big joke? Tread carefully. I'll listen to you, you know what your thinking.

"Lying? Seriously? Y-you're a D-devil! I don't see how your lying when I never expensive asked-"

She folded in her wings. I didn't know where they went, but I didn't even know they were there in the first place so they must be well hidden.

"No, I was actually talking about how you're cuter when you stutter."

"H-how?"

She had to think about it for a minute, well less than that, but was longer than a second, so- never mind. "Well, when you stutter you're answering more quickly so you're obviously trying speak what's on your mind, which is what I like about it."

"I meant, h-how are you a devil?"

She giggled a bent over forward, which nearly made me crawl backwards out of fearful instinct, in spite of her overly friendliness. "Well Zeni-kun, that's an easy one; It's the story of when a Mummy devil and a Daddy devil are forced procreate after a terrible war, they-"

"I m-meant why are you n-n-n, n-not . . . red-d, and . . . horn . . . -n-ney?"

That dropped her smile. Shit. "Are being stereotypical?"

Eek! Crap! Calm down, don't give her a reasons to eat you. Eat me!

"Please don't eat me."

I blurted that straight out. Damn voice in my head, making me so nervous. I obviously know diddly squat about Devils, but even so, why would this super hot devil choose to go out on a date with me if she wasn't after something. And let's be perfectly honest here; I really offer up nothing else than a decent hunk of meat.

Sports, please. I can play sports, but my stamina sucks like hell. I can play an excellent game for five minutes at my best before I collapse from lack of any real fitness.

Smarts, I don't think so; straight average, and sometimes slightly above, but definitely nothing impressive to get recognised for it. Just a head with bundled up useless facts that won't get me a high test score in any exam.

If I'm not brawn or brains, then that just leaves brew. (Couldn't think of a better word, so just leave it be unless you can think- oh yeah *slap* fourth wall, forgot.)

"Eat you?"

I was cowering in fear, well wouldn't you? I was sitting on my backside, covering my head with both my arms, while leaving my legs and mid-regions wide open. But what was caught off guard more by was her reaction.

I slowly lowered my arms and looked back up. She wasn't smiling, but she wasn't frown even. Confused, definitely.

. . . Wait, why is she confused? Did she not want to eat me?

"Uh hm."

"Why on hell would I want to eat you?"

Oh. I take it she's not telling one convincing lie right here. Call it intuition, but if a person with clearly more power than you doesn't kill you the first chance they get once they know you know something you shouldn't, then it's clearly not what they planned.

Great, now how do I explain it to her . . . Fuck. Nothing you can say is going to make it worse. You're probably right.

"W-well, b-b-becau-"

"Nibble maybe, possibly bite if it gives that far. But, I'm thinking way to ahead, we've only had one date after all."

. . . "*gulp* W-what?"

She giggled again, smiling again like she did earlier. I don't know if this us suppose to be relieving, or even more tensing.

"You don't need to worry about that." I am worried though!

She reached out her hand, which nearly made me flinch. Yes, nearly. I. Was beyond the point if scared, nothing more was going to freak me out anymore than winged people, magic attacks, superhuman followers, a hand was the least of my concerns.

I hesitantly reached out and grabbed it. I know the point of this, when she started pulling, was to help me back to my feet, but I just got my arse saved by three teen school girls. Doesn't matter if they're magical beings or whatever, the least I can do is pick myself out of the dirt.

When she started pulling, I put more effort in just using her hand as a balancing stabiliser while I forced the rest of my body to stand up straight to my feet rather than leaning in towards her.

I patted the back if my jeans. Brand new or not, I couldn't leave any dust stains on it. If there was any, especially since she picked them out. I've just seen her stand strong against a bloodthirsty half-bird man. Compare him as a chicken, I would be the equivalent of a wing; boney with little meat on it and pretty much easy to throw away most of it once you've picked at it.

I don't know if I should have said this, but . . . "Thanks."

She then looked playfully at me, those rich fandango eyes getting larger. Stepping in closer, despite being only a few feet apart, she started raising herself inwards. "I would actually prefer one of my thanks yous instead."

I know what she's doing. Damn, it's a kiss. Why? Why now of all times, common, don't start like this.

As long as I told myself to forget about her wings, and that freakish green aura that had surrounded her, I could get by pretending that nothing had changed and that our date was never interrupted. She wasn't a devil, she was just Akane Naberius, another girl who happens to go to the same school as me who I'm here on a date with.

She was getting closer. It wouldn't be long now. A kiss, or more than you think? Please be talking about something else other than being eaten. Fuck, I had to say it again. Now I'm thinking about it again. Stop! Come on.

I had two thoughts running through my head. The first voice was remembering those warm melted caramel feelings that went running through my mind every time she was near me, and the increase in intensity when she kissed me, twice. Something like that which was dying more another lip-on-lip contact to recharge those feelings.

But then I had this new voice that was flashing images of bat wings sprouting, green auras filling the area. The whole fact that she was a devil, and the thought that she might still want to take a bite at me, even if that earlier comment was meant as a playful joke. Giving her any piece of me was just another opening for her to sunk her teeth in a draw out my blood in the gallons.

While my own body was now wrestling with the attraction and repelling towards her, not quite sure which to listen to, she was drawing closer, which started to overload both senses. My body was now shaking. Scared. Anxious. I hadn't a bloody clue.

She then stopped, just inches away, and then smirked a little. Does she really find my awkward fear to be that funny? "I guess this is the end of the date now."

I felt partially disappointed, and partially relieved, but . . . "Uh hm."

"Well then." I had no time for reaction. She lunged into me, locking both our lips again before I could think I was scared or overjoyed. It didn't last long, but the sudden action was making my heart thump straight through my ribs. "One last kiss before I go."

My eyes were shot wide open. I was stuck standing here like when she first confronted me, yesterday. I was still overcome with that thumping in my chest. It was affecting my breathing as well. I was getting light headed by my own accord now.

She smirked and then started walking away. It took me a while to. Regain my sense of awareness. "Wait."

She stopped and turned to me, sweeping back her hair as she rotated rapidly on the spot. The ground beneath her turned green. Light sprouted from no where, again. The aura was back. "Oh, don't worry, you don't need to walk me home. Since you already know I'm a devil, I can just use the magic circle to get home."

How on earth could she tell me all this with a smile, when I am having a hard time contemplating the fact that the bible was actually a historical record, or am I going too far with that? "The what?"

The light stated growing stronger till all other lights in. The park were dimmed out. The circles rotations started rising. She tilted her head and waved me off. "See you tomorrow at school, Zeni-kun."

I gave a weak wave off as she disappeared into the green magic, till that too also vanished. "Ok- tommorow? Tomorrow!"

Part 2 Edit

"And here he is, the scout master, the lonesome conqueror."

It was the next day, at school no less. You didn't miss a lot after I went home for the evening, after I was left alone in the park at half nine or something around that. I walked home, half scared another cannibalistic crime would swoop down to get me.

Actually is it cannibalism, since he is clearly not human? Definitely beyond human if he, or it maybe, ever was human to begin with.

I went home, alone. Mum was out late, so I let myself in and I just went to bed when I was ready to sleep, which after all that was close immediately. By the time my senses weed alert again, it was morning, and the same routine I've already to,d you occurred.

It was Wednesday, so I had the morning period off. I still came to school, but that was because I . . . I actually thought it was safer. Yeah, probably not the greatest reason, but there you go.

Akane was a devil.

Akane was a devil.

. . . Third time for luck, I don't think so. It never seems to get old saying that. I could have pondered on this thought all night in my sleep.

Find her.

That's all my thoughts have been on all day. But the more I continued to thin. About it, the uncertainty of evetything seemed to grow more sinister, and that just made me want to find out more, but not in the right emotional state;

Something about her. The memories of the feeling I kept getting whenever I saw her smiling and complimenting me, the stronger it got when she was close and touching me. And . . . h~hhgh, the overdose when she kissed me.

But after seeing everything that night, last night, I began to question everything. She's a devil, so is she doing this for a reason? Is she using magic? Is this feeling mine or something she's doing deliberately? Am I even safe here?

I had too many distracting thoughts in my head. Luckily for me, I had someone who was a bigger distraction than anything I could think up. Enter my 'friend' (still questioning the title), Shoda.

Speaking of titles, he'd came straight up to me in the classroom, the second year's room, for study sessions and a waiting room for between lessons, and came up with two . . . eh, fascinating, ones for me. Not that I even deserved them.

"Scout master? Lonesome . . . conqueror?" I replied.

I didn't want to know why he went with those names, but the pervert was way to enthusiastic to even be questioned. I picked up quickly in the two days I actually started 'hanging out' with him. I'm still waiting for my name to join him on the pervert bounty hunter's list for aiding and abetting.

He got really into the names, powerfully striking two fingers in front of my view. "Two very deserving titles; the first for knowing the best spots in this school for peaking on girls in full incognito that no one of the KSATT ever knew of."

I had no idea what that word even was. And beforehand, I didn't know about the K in front, and here's why: "KSATT? What on earth-" I got my answer without even finishing the question.

"Kobutori to o Shiri Akogareno Tekai Teikei." For the anglophones, he said 'the Tekai Alliance of Buxom and Buttocks Admiration'. Yeah, that's what he said. And he was too proud of it when you hear it being said as loud and as logistically as he made it sound.

"So, Ksatt?" I'm not even proud of that. Such a lame question. Lame question. Even the voice in my head agrees.

"Actually it's Satt. The K's silent." There's your answer. Just leave it at that.

"Sorry I even asked."

He got off from my desk and swung around, pulling the chair to the next desk over to me skip he could sit in a close proximity to catch his arm around my neck. I couldn't help but remember the nasty strong head lock the short martial artist dud to the freak last night.

He slud up and pulled me in, like despite his obvious proclamation, he wanted to keep the next part of the explanation between us. "Now to the second title; though you have walked the path of solitude, you, Santouno Zenji managed to land a straight up eight without even pulling in any sort of moves, except the idea of isolation. You are the inspiration to us all; zero work and full results."

He was a much more beefy guy than I was, so I had no way of escaping this. Either way, as long as he keeping it didn't it was better just to let him have his way. "Except for the date I had plan out."

He pointed to my chest. I remembered the more playful feeling when Ajane was drawing circles there. Nothing like the sharp jabs Shoda was putting on me. "But at the end of the day, you return to school a conquering hero. The model to which all us socially challenged students have to look to for confidence."

"You mean your pervert friends in KSATT?" I actually pronounced it right, this time.

"Socially challenged is the term for the new generation, try to keep up. Now to log this into my files."

I rolled my eyes at the comment. Socially challenged. Ha. Every attempt they made to sneak a peak was too much effort that anyone normal would even consider doing. It was a challenge enough to think about where the girls would be, then adding on hiding spots escape routes, and it her things I don't even think I'm considering. And for the benefit of all women, I will refrain fro digging any further.

And then you his infamous filing system. I still have no idea where it even came from-, actually that reminds me. I dug into my bag and I pulled out the folder he left two days ago. "You mean this one?"

"Haha, you dog. Helpful much?"

"As strange as your filing is, yes."

I wasn't even lying about that. Don't get me wrong; this was a definite invasion of her private life, listing stuff like hobbies and habits and what not. Then again, it never said she was a devil so this could be constructed under a false enforcement of identity to throw off people in her scent. Still, it was actually full of useful information, for the date I mean.

Like typical girls, the usual stuff like shopping and watching films were on there, which is what I based the date around to start with, with some thrown in assumed knowledge from what I thought would be considered a part of the date experience, like the meal and the walk in the park.

That was it though, I only had those two other ideas that I didn't steal from the file.

He looked at the folder and took it from my hands, then he slipped it behind his back, and it was gone. "Great, just don't tell anyone about this. Gods would only know what would happen if these fell into the wrong hands."

"Might want to rephrase that. By the way, where do yo-"

"Right, now back to your first night, how was it?"

I was still stuck, so there was no escaping it. But . . . There was the issue of the truth. Should I tell him the truth, or the truth but missing a few important details. The latter was more believable anyways. I doubt he would have believed that Devils existed if I told him.

"It was . . . nice. It started with her getting me out of my uniform-"

"Uh hah."

"Then we basically went in and out of different places before we-

"Filled her up?"

Where'd phrase, but I went with it, regrettably. "I guess you could say that. Then we spent the rest of the evening laid back-"

"Yeah."

"And at the end of the night, we were in the park."

"Pretty bold move don't you think, for your first time I mean?"

"No, I thought ending everything at the park was a . . . I don't know: romantic?"

"You considered ending things with romantic after everything you did before."

"That's what you do on a date, isn't it?"

"Not the date you described."

I looked up at him confused. I had been looking away, knowing how too much interest he took in it. But I didn't expect his eyes to have been so wide and excited. I swore he might have been drooling a little, and was that a trickle handing from his nose?

"What do you mean?"

"Going in and out *wink* Filling her up *wink*."

. . .

Yeah.

That was my regret.

. . .

I was, in one word: absolutely influstered. No that's two words. The second ones not even a word, but the closest to what redness was spreading rapidly across my face, as it stretched beyond all belief.

"- Oh God! That's What You Thought!"

I smacked my mouth closed and ducked my head when I realised how loud I was. I even jumped from my chair, creating a screeching noise that would have caught more attention than I even wanted.

Shoda had the same idea, covering my hand that was covering my mouth. Being a . . . socially challenged individual, he was an expert on keeping quiet.

"Keep it down!" I nodded with wide white eyes on a pink covered face. He released my hand and I released my mouth, gasping in absolute silence, and looking around to make sure all attention was gone. I slumped in relief, but Shoda wasn't done with our conversation. "So you didn't turn the key?"

Turn the what? I had no idea what he was talking about. "What?"

"Screw in the frame?"

Still no. "Huh?"

"Stuff the buns?"

I mentally slapped myself when I finally understood what he was talking about. Not for being dense, but the fact we were still having this conversation and I was still listening and contributing to it. "Where do you keep coming up with these terms?"

"You didn't do it."

Despite the embarrassing part having passed us, I was still in a state of shock. "No. No Nonononononono no."

"Aw, my senpai, you are a master of many things, but this was not one of them. You seriously turned down the opportunity."

Wait, he's seriously disappointed in me.

"What on earth? Even if it was going that way, isn't the general rule three dates minimum?"

He began tutting me, like he was such an expert. "That's when you ask her. Three dates gives her time to judge whether you're the guy she wants. She asked you, so she obviously only needed one date to make a decision."

- Hmm. I definitely made the right choice picking you that day.

Her words. Wait, no. No. Please don't let him be right. Is he? No. Really? No. What? No. No. No. No! He is? Is he . . . Oh god!

"Oh fuck. I think you're actually onto something here-" wait! Scratch that. What am I saying. She's not an ordinary girl, this can't apply to her. She's not even human. What am I even saying? "Th-that doesn't matter. I wouldn't have been able to do it anyways."

"Sure you could." He gave me a slight elbowing. But I put him down.

"But I couldn't, because . . ."

I stopped. Should I say it? Would he even believe me? No. He wouldn't. Would he? No. Just say it you moron. Alright, fine. I'm going have to have someone check my head out, it seems to be too aggressive towards me.

He rolled his wrist, waiting for my answer. "Becaussse?"

I swallowed a mouthful of saliva. The gulp was easily heard in the cloaks room, but that was the least of my concerns. The answer was my main focus. ". . . She's . . . a devil?"

"Oh, I bet she was. I bet she was. She definitely looked the type. You're a lucky devil yourself. Know what I mean? Know what I mean? Nudge nudge, wink wink."

. . . I get the feeling he's been watching Monty Python. Either Japanese dubbed or maybe in English lessons. Either way, he was having a laugh at this, and making a misunderstanding again.

"You're not taking this seriously are you?"

SSSCREEEAAMMM!!!

He never got the chance to answer. The halls were attracted by large screams that came from the corridors. The room was almost shaken by how loud it was. Shoda on the other hand dived for his desk, under it more precisely.

"Crap! They found me. Are there any blind spots in the classroom you know of?"

Great, that was all he really wanted from me; peeping spots and talks about girls. Is there anything else in this guy's head. He's like some badly written side character fixated on being a pervert.

. . . Don't say it, I know what your thinking, so just leave it.

"Get back here. Those screams aren't for you. Those are screams of excitement."

Yeah. If it was a scream for 'yikes-a-pervert-is-peeping-on-us', it would gave sounded more like a reactionary screech rather than forced scream. Speaking of which, what incident is he talking about?

"For who?" he asked, changing the subject completely.

I looked to the doorway and pointed my finger, leaning back on my chair. "That guy."

There at the door, was the guy; he wasn't short, but he was slightly shorter than both me and Shoda were. He was lean built, but his arms seemed to be more prominent even under his school jacket. His hair was an unnatural saturated black that made it look like a dark shade of blue, maybe even purple, so possibly indigo, cut at normal length with an overhanging widows peak at the middle of his face. His eyes as well, a blood red colour, watered as well to almost a pink, but blood coloured none the less.

"OMG, he's here!" "Chiba Takeshi." "He's some kind of genius." "Is he here for us?"

I'll straight up say that I had never even heard of Takeshi beforehand, despite how ,any girls were wooing over him. I didn't think he looked partially good looking in any feature, but maybe the unusual colourings and the presumed string build was enough. Genius, I can't comment.

He leant up against the doorway, poking his hands into his pockets and scanned out the classroom. There were only ten, eleven people in the room besides Shoda and I.

"I'm here for Santouno Zenjirou."

That scared me. The way he spoke, such exhaustion like I wasn't even worth his time. A bit stuck up, but I defiantly wouldn't have liked to protest him.

Unfortunate, I couldn't hide from him, since everyone in the classroom was now staring towards me. I could hear whispers in the corridors, and girls peaking their heads to see what was going on. Guys too, but more girls were interested in what Takeshi was looking for.

"Wh-why?"

He shrugged his shoulders. "Don't ask me. But our club mistress wants to see you ASAP."

I raised an eyebrow to the answer. "You're club mistress? What club?"

He rolled his eyes and pointed down to my trousers. "The Esotericism Club. She gave you the flyer didn't she?"

I reached in my pocket. Yes, I still had it. The wired circle, like the light show she showed me yesterday, and the scribble of a phone number scrawled across the back, from two days ago when I received it from her. "Akane?"

Was I in for it now?

Part 3 Edit

"So, wh-where are you taking me."

"To see Naberius-senpai of course. Where else would I take you?"

"I-I don't mean to be rude, but y-y-you don't sound like you like me very much."

We'd been walking for five minutes. It felt so strange when I realised I didn't recognise where I was being led. We were still. In one of the school buildings, we didn't even go outside once so we were still connected to the rest of the school. But the corridors seemed to last an eternity was walking.

"Don't take it personally. Takeshi doesn't like anyone he thinks is weaker than himself."

As soon as we came to a stop, someone was already waiting, but it wasn't Akane. We weren't even in the door yet, but I had seen her from last night also. The speeding samurai that lopped the bastards hand and then arm off.

She responded to my question, without me realising she was there to begin with. She was more like a ninja than any samurai. I'd seen her speed first hand, but she was already waiting there. For me?

Takeshi took to his compliment, not smugly, but he enbrassed it with the same straight face he'd shown me the whole time I'd known his existence. Which stated from a quarter of and hour ago.

"In the Underworld, only the strong deserve respect. The weak serve the strong, and fight for them as well."

So he knew? Not surprising. Why would I even call it a surprise if he was affiliated with Akane and the girl with the sword? Speaking if which:

"Wait, it's you! Y-you were in the park last night, with your sword."

Out of the shadows, the blade hit a reflection of light and caught my eyes. She did this deliberately, I just know it.

"As my lady's sworn sword, a sword is a necessary requirement."

Figures. Another cold shouldered response. Why am isurrounded with theodolite who ant even show a smile? Oh yeah, 'cause I owe three of them my life, not that I'm going to give it like that, but I doubt I could fight any of the girls as I saw them pull off these feats last night. I don't know what Takeshi is even capable if, but the demonic eyes is enough to say it's not worth it.

I uncovered my eyes when the light was gone. Then, I caught two daggers staring at me in the face. I mean her eyes were like daggers, not . . . you know.

"Why are you staring at me?"

"Something about you . . . smells wrong to me." That hurt I'm didn't stink. I showered last night before I went to bed. "Are you sure your even human?"

That popped straight of nowhere. No idea why that even came up.

"I-I don't know what else I would be. *gulp* By the way, you holding your sword like that makes me feel nervous."

"It should."

I was given no opportunity of lenience from either of them, between the girl, whose names still didn't know at this point, and Takeshi, whose abilities were unknown but scared me still.

It was a worse case than being caught between a rocks da hard place. It was more like caught between a blade that tasted blood and a pair if eyes that thirst for blood. Either way, my blood was shivering under two cold stares.

"In."

I felt his hand throw me in. In spite of every short thing I could attach to him, I had to admit that his bulkier arms were not for show if they couldn't deliver. Once the three of user rein, the door was shut with careful precision, like cutting a blade of grass without a sound. Then, it was locked.

The room was . . . not what I was expecting in full honesty; I expected heavy drapes bathed in shades of crimson, an organ piece in one corner, and a series of Tesla-inspired steampunk. I then remembered that Akane was neither a vampire, a phantom or a mad scientist, so I was expecting too much.

It was still a classroom, but the wooden seats and desks were removed, and instead was a table, large and round, like from Camelot itself. Sixteen chairs were encircling it, all made from the same stone that the table was cut from; grey and in one piece. True masonry at its finest.

The chairs were the same size, but the backrests were shaped differently, and some appeared twice, or even the case of one set repeated for eight chairs that stood in between the rest.

Unoccupied, I was made to walk to a more familiar sight; a set of lounging settees surrounding a square coffe table, and a teacher's desk at the head. An open fire to the left and a window line that stretched the rooms length across the right hand wall. Apart from the stone table, the room was a little more believable.

"Is that the guy. The one Akane-oneesama was with last night?"

"Yes."

"But, you're not looking."

"I don't need to."

The sofas were already occupied. Two girls were waiting there. One I recognised, one I didn't, but neither were Akane; the first to speak I didn't know before today, she was definitely younger than me, and she must have been new at the school too. Just based on a hunch.

She was unlike the rest of them, quite timid at first glance and a lack of emotionless drive. Light brown hair, almost natural blonde, cut to fit around her face and not lower. Blue eyes, like two dark rings that plunged to the depth of the Pacific, dark mostly, but lighter in a few spots where the light reflected off of them.

Despite calling Akane 'oneesama', there was nothing about her appearance or her figure that made any indication of proof that the two were related in anyway. Not biologically, and hardly adoptive.

The other girls was the same black belt, black haired and lighter blue eyes. More petite than the first girl, but a face that remained stone and unmoving. She was 'enjoying' a hot drink of some kind, but despite it being a small cup meant for tea, I doubted the authenticity of the drink as the beverage mentioned.

The room was open to all the light, but still it was caught in the shadows.

"Stand here."

After waking past both settees and was now in front of the teachers desk, Takeshi grabbed my right shoulder and hauled me into the right spot. With the swordswoman to my left and him at my right, I was stuck here. I stood directly across from the desk's midpoint, marked by the neatly aligned piles and stacks of flyers on its surface, and a school clock that hung on top of the blackboard.

The chair that took priority over the desk was facing away from me, with its large back blocking my view of the person siting in it. Then, it spun around, and sitting at the desk was the club present, and my . . . eh, last night's date; Akane.

"O-okay."

Staring at her now, I was feeling the sweat rolling from my brow. She was looking so intently. I wondered what devilish thoughts she was imagining right now for me.

"Hiya Zeni-kun."

Then she dropped it all. Her usual self reappeared almost instantly. Smiling and closed eyes. It shocked me more than the lack of her usual behaviour.

"""Zeni-kun?"""

I heard three voices respond, but with four other people in the room, someone obviously wasn't surprised. Still drinking he- from her tea cup, the martial artist said nothing. Unlike the rest of the witnesses, her reaction was nothing.

I was left in silence, with two eyes piercing against me, and a third that looked on in awe. The nerves are getting to me now.

Humour her. She has you regardless. Just go with it. Yeah, you're right about this.

"H-h-h, hi. Hi. Hi, A-akane." *thump* "Orhhhhhmm!"

A solid punch from Takeshi. That was all it was, one right hook into my gut. The punch was low enough that I felt a phantom kick in the groin, pushing my pain receptors to the max. I lost all breath as my form lower in reactionary protection . . . and defeat.

"How dare you speak to her in such a rude manner."

I fell to the floor. First to my knees, but then they gave way too and I was on my side, narrowly avoiding hitting my head against both the floor and the desk. Akane rose and walked around. My sight was blurry with watery images, but her tone thought this was just a big joke, stuck on her usual happy manner.

"Come one, Taki-chan. He can call me what ever he likes, we did go on a date after all."

"Yes Senpai. Sorry Senpai."

What a suck up. Now I don't particularly like him as much. He kind of pushed me out of being scared of what he was capable of since he used physical force rather than something unexpected like I thought. It was too humanly possible to be scared of him as much now.

Much like last night, she offered her hand to help me back up, but again, I took it while getting myself back up. She still slightly scared me, but she wasn't going to kill me, I just knew that much. Too much had already happened for her to be this clumsy with it if she had the intention. I hoped.

She brushed me off, much to everyone's shock, including mine and excluding you know who. The touch of her hands made my skin crawl, but it also felt tingly as well. I went read went her palm stroked over my backside. She was taking too many giggles from this than necessary.

"So, Zeni-kun. I said I'd see you tomorrow. And now we're here."

Standing directly in front of me. No desk between us now, and her touch still imprinted on my skin. Why was I feeling scared if it isn't fear that's over one me? I was shaking, not because of her, but more for her. Did she do this to me?

My speech pattern wasn't improving. All the more humour for her as I stuttered on.

"Um, y-yeah. Um, s-see about that-t; w-why, wh-what is this . . . Uh . . ."

"Oh, sorry. I was getting too far ahead of myself. It's been a while since I've talked to someone openly about the real world we inhabit."

"I see."

Directing me to the window side sofa, I obliged and sat down. Stepping past the timid girls legs and sitting unintentionally beside her. Akane took the seat facing opposite, with the other girl sitting to her right, and the remaining two standing behind her. She pulled out her wings, and leaned in forward.

"Well, first off; yes, I was telling you the truth last night. I am a devil. Akane Naberius is still my name. I'm the niece of the current family head, my uncle Lord Taito Naberius, the Marquis of Naberius, and currently sixth-in-line of succession. And everyone here us my peerage."

"So, you're a no-nobleman."

She winked with her left eye. I don't know if she meant it as a well done or if she still teasing me. "Correct. One of the members of the surviving 34 noble houses of Devils of the 72 Pillars."

"Pillars?"

Akane didn't reply, instead I got my answer from the girl with the sword standing behind her. "They were previously known as the Lesser Key of Solomon. Lesser not in terms of power, but in depth, meaning lower down. But since it's the 72 Families that held the Underworld together, pillars seemed more appropriate."

"Right."

" . . . "

With no more replies, and a very expansive answer that obviously meant I needed to do my own research to fully understand it, I turned back to Akane.g "Your peerage?"

"Well, that's just the book term for my personal pieces. I prefer to think of them as family though."

"D-do you mean, your Exoplanet- whatever club members?"

"Esotericism. Yep. Everyone here in this club is my peerage."

On that keyword, wings after wings flapped out, till the only one without them, was me. Akane, sword girl, Takeshi, timid girl, and headlock girl. All had the same wings.

"Wait! Y-you're all D-d-Devils?"

Akane giggled. I sort of hated how my nervous reactions made her laugh. But it was still a cute laugh. "How about some introductions then?"

"Yes, my King" "Certainly, my Lady." "Yes Senpai" "Oh, ok Onee-sama." Wow, skin many titles. All with the same meaning, but they all reflected differently on how they saw her. From the rightful leader to a respect for a great person, from admiring your superior to relying on a patron. She meant something different to all of them, just from how they addressed her.

. . . Or I'm blowing out my arse with half baked ideas. I still see validity in them though, no use a theory.

Finishing her 'tea', she placed her cup down and stood up first. "Yagura Suzue. I am my King's right side Rook."

"Shunji Masako. Knight of her Lady's peerage." Sheathing her sword, she answered next.

"Chiba Takeshi. I'm worth five of my senpai's Pawns."

With only one person left, she worked up the courage to answer. "I'm Hamada Kumi, and I'm only worth one Pawn unfortunately."

Rook? Knight? Pawns? Seriously?

"Ok, I heard that y-you liked chess, but nam-ming your . . . m-m-members after chess pieces seems a bit m-much."

"Well that's what they are.

"Eh?"

Takeshi stepped in. Damn, I nearly flinched as he made a move. Fuck this, he wasn't even making an attempt in me this time and I still fell for it. "Senpai, I think your telling him a little too much now."

"Don't be so paranoid Taki-chan" she replied, smiling his concern off. "If he's going to join us, he at least needs a run through before we give him a choice."

Wait! Hold the phones! That's the whole reason she made me set up a date for her. She made the right choice with me because I managed to set a date that was at least approvable. An- . . . hang on, that's just brings something else to mind:

"So, wait. I don't get it; I-if you want me, wh-why? I'm nothing at all special. I can't swing a sword or grab a guy of any kind in a headlock. A-and I d-d-definitely don't know magic of any kind, so why on earth do you want me a part of your peerage?"

"Actually I'm curious too." "That's an understatement." "Why him?"

" . . . "

They waited for her answer, as did I, but she never gave one. For once, Suzue (glad I have names now) actually didn't have a clue either.

" . . . Akane-oneesama?"

Akane stood up and walked around the table. With everyone staring as she walked to the front end, in front of her desk, she reached out her right hand and indicated for me to go to her.

I stared cluelessly for a while, but subtle gestures and a continuously lingering smile eventually warded off the denseness from my psyche. I stood up and walked up to her, hesitantly taking her hand. It was like testing out the water by dipping your ties in before you dunk the whole foot into it, with my hand extending and retracting before I placed it in her grasp.

As soon as my hand relaxed, she pulled on it, completely thrusting me forward into her. Our fronts collided, and I went pink in the face when I happened to realise my unoccupied was . . . *ahem*, occupied . . . with- you know. I pulled it away, feeling some icy stares piercing me from several places.

"Wait, what are you-"

Putting a finger to my lip, then dragging it down towards my neck, she started stroking my chest. She leaned in a for a quick peck on my lips, much to my confusion, and flushed feeling. H~hgh. That giddy feeling again.

"Relax, Zeni-kun."

Takeshi, like all the rest of her . . . eh, club members, we're looking on with confusion. Only he actually decided to question what she was doing.

"Senpai, this is . . . not the time."

She giggled again, making me feel nervous. But I didn't expect what she did next; rubbing over the centre of my chest. She pushed her hand into it. I felt a surge of energy running through my body. Then, it happened.

[Equate]

My upper torso felt heavier, and in a blinding flash of yellow, something materialised over my chest. It looked metallic, in a golden yellow shine. It was a piece of armour, but it only covered the upper portion, like a cuirass, but it was also decorated with a blue-purple jewel in a perfect six sided prism, and four streaks that caved inwards running either side of it.

"What in heaven and hell?" "The fuck?" "Oh my."

". . ."

Ok seriously? Suzue is still not saying a thing. She's not surprised? 'Cause I sure was when this thing magically appeared around my ribs.

I patted the surface, feeling for how this managed to fit over me. But there were no straps or anything. It was one whole piece! "Where did this come from! What is this?"

"This is your sacred gear. The Equalise Equip."

I looked at her completely dumbstruck. So many questions were running through my head: Is this what she wanted from me? Is this even mine? What on earth is it for? But I ended up with the only question that seemed matter at the time: "Sacred what?"

"Takeshi, Kumi, if you would please."

Both of them stood up. I first look at Takeshi as he held his right arm over his face, then he blasted his eyes open and threw his arm off to the side. A dark purple aura flared over his right arm and what materialised there was a claw of smooth shiny rock-like substance, but it was flickering like a flame of black and navy.

I then turned to Kumi, who retracted her devil wings, and out came a pair of white steel wings, with a green inside that resembled something you'd find on a jet plane. They were smaller and bulkier than her otherwings, but they demonstrated a lot of manueverability like they were alive.

"Holy-" I stopped my expression when the whole group started whincing. I guess that being Devils, anything related to the God was basically the equivalent of ramming a dagger through their heads. ". . . um, yikes. Are those Sacred Gears too?"

Takeshi took way too much offence to a simple question. "Well they're not decorations." I'm sorry I even asked. If mine was a Sacred Gear like theirs, then I was a little envious; Takeshi had a whole arm, Kumi had wings, and I got something that was barely considered a piece of protective armour.

Akane clapped her hands together. "Well then, I think we'd better give this a test r-"

She didn't get to finish when a small creature materialised into the room. It landed straight onto Masako's shoulder and made a series of grunts and squeaks into her ear. I had no idea what they thing was, but her reactions meant she understood it, but the news wasn't that good.

"What? What is it?"

The creature disappeared and Masako's turned to Akane. "My lady, she's back."

Who's back? What was that thing? Is anyone even going to listen to me? I guess not.

"Thank you, Maso-san." She turned to me. "Sorry, Zeni-kun, but we have business to take of, so your test run will have to wait."

"Test run? Business?" She pushed my chest and the armour vanished. I suddenly felt a rush of exhaustion run through me. "I'm g-going to need a lie down."

I walked back to the settee, but . . .

"No you're not."

I felt my entire weight being taken from me. Before my seat could even get comfortable, Suzue, despite being so much smaller than me, grabbed the ruff of my shirt and hoisted me over her shoulder, with one hand.

"Suzu-chan!"

"My apologies my King, but he has remained indecisive, so leaving him here would be a critical error after giving him so much information about our works and our activities."

What! Hell no! If you going to do whatever devil thing you were going to do, then just leave me be. Damn it. Why? Stupid gear, I gave idea what you even do, but if you could get me out if this, it would've helpful right about now.

Suck it up. Says you.

"Hey! No, let me down!"

I continued to struggle, but man she was beyond superhumanly strong. It was like trying to wriggle out of a metal vice stuck down with cement. It didn't matter, the magic circle was drawn and I was unwittingly inside if it one way or another.

Giggling at me being upside down, Akane bent down over me. "Hmmhmm. Sorry, Zeni-kun, but I guess now you get a front row seat."

My eyes widened, and I was sweating. I thought about that crazy winged guy and the mad eyes he had wanting to eat me. That was the business she was talking about. "No. No. No! You're kidding me!"

She wasn't. The light absorbed us and the room vanished into nothing.

Part 4 Edit

The light vanished, and so did the club room.

We were outside now. But not the school grounds. Am I even sure we are still even in Kaijou? I could hear the wind, but everything else was just deaf upon my ears. We were all still here, the Devils and me, but I had no recollection of ever seeing a place like this;

Old and abandoned. A warehouse were a delivery company used to import and export supplies and products. I didn't even know something like this existed, but with the abundance of old vans and rusted forklifts that laid abandoned across the concrete yard we were standing upon.

Apart from the large piece of metal and brick that stood out in front of us, there was nothing else here within the walls. Barbed wire and a locked fence meant no one else should be here.

Unless of course they flew in. You had to bring that up didn't you?

"Where in hell are we?"

"No, we're still above ground." She's serious?

"I'm guessing you don't know a saying is?"

Despite Suzue being a blank expression, I would have thought that. Sayings wouldn't have flown straight over her head as well. Speaking of things flowing to your head; mine was feeling particularly heavy, and all this blood is starting to make me queasy.

It didn't help my situation when Akane grabbed both my cheeks and started shaking my head. "Calm down, Zeni-kun. We won't keep you long. No, we intend to finish this up quickly."

Quickly? Please let it be so, I can't take this much longer.

Akane turned her head. Her expression changed from playful, to determined. A serious streak rose across her face. She was still smiling, but it lost its soft approach. Is this her serious face?

"Masako. Scout the perimeter. Suzue. Hold the entrance."

With their orders given, both the girls gave her a salute of their own accord; Masako drew her sword with her right hand and held it vertical to the centre of her face. Suzue, with me still over her shoulder, straighten her form out, with her legs locked together and her empty arm to her side.

""Yes, Akane-sama.""

Wow, that changed quickly. From the way they talked to each other earlier, with the different titles of respect, and all the cute names she gave them. Now they are just taking to each other like . . . this.

Masako disappeared into the wind, like the wind in fact is what I should have said, and inky the sound of her body moving was the last thing we saw if her first a good while. Meanwhile, Suzue moved up towards the door, slowly approaching at a walking pace.

I was grateful from one aspect since she had still not put me down, and any increase in her speed may have caused me more discomfort.

You're asking why I still hasn't pointed this out to anyone else? Frankly, I'm trying to decide whether or not if rudeness towards them will just equate to obliteration. Especially from the guy with blood red eyes staring at me.

"I don't get all the names." Since I was stuck here, and in no easy way of escaping, I might as well test the waters with a simple enough question. "You don't seem to have a decisive name for each other."

I was referring to the incident earlier where they went from personalised names to direct names. The sudden transition was too confusing to me? Do all Devils do this?

"It's just for serious matters now, runt."

"First, Takeshi, I'm bigger than you are, so I don't get why you have to call me a runt." Despite being a third-year high school student, Takeshi was shorter than me. I was taller than average, but that still didn't add up too well. "Second, Suzue, could you put me down now? I feel like a bag of rice slumped your shoulder like this."

She stopped only once we reached the door. Then she dropped me, off her shoulder, with me rolling from her shoulder and face planting the ground. Despite the pain from falling flat on my face, it. Was a relief to my brain not to have so much blood pumping into it anymore.

Akane turned to her remaining members. "Takeshi, Kumi. Bring out your Sacred Gears."

""Yes, Senpai.""

Two fades of flight later, and their Sacred Gears were out; the purple arm and silver wings materialised in an instant. Until I learn their real names, I'm going to have to stick with that.

["Akane, all clear outside. Returning to you."]

"Wh-who said that?" I replied in shock. Someone's voice got me on high alert. Though my question fell on nought but Akane's giggle, Kumi's snicker, Takeshi's rolling eyes, and Suzue's . . . nothing. Seriously, there was something wrong with her.

Pressing her finger to her ear, Akane smiled and said "Thank you, Masako."

Right, so it was Masako who was speaking. I am seriously going to have to buckle down and take notes after this- Wait? What am I saying? I'm a hostage here. I never signed up for this!

Pointing out towards the door, she then added "Suzue, break it down. We're advancing. Masako, return to our side."

["Yes, understood."]

Suzue turned her head. "Now, Akane?"

"Go for it" she replied, nodding head and smiling. Without anything to hold her back, Suzue despite her small frame walked straight up to the door and crushed I gin bother her hands like scrunching the metal into a paper ball. "Thank you."

Leading her peerage into the shadows, Akane stepped through the doorway first. Then it was Suzue, followed by Takeshi, Kumi, . . . Me! Masako's sword, and Masako lastly. I didn't want to go in, but I was convinced in a 'democratic' way to walk inside after all. But seriously, her speed is still the scariest thing about her, and her ability to sneak up on you without even knowing it.

Inside the darkness, the warehouse looked exactly how you would imagine; racks and racks just empty or full of junk left aside by the former employees. A few still had metal containers still slotted into places. But it was largely an empty room with mountains of dust and dirt building into slopes in the corners.

"Typical" Takeshi snickered. "It's always abandoned warehouses. Seriously, they never go for originality when choosing their hideouts."

"But there's never anyone else here. So isn't that a good sign?" Kumi asked.

"Suppose that's right; means we can be as devilish as we like without giving to wipe people's memories."

. . . Wait. Wipe memories? I was aware that they could do magic, seeing as I am still not able to explain a lot of their superhuman abilities, but memory wiping was not something I expected to hear.

I started feeling a little more panicky towards the group I was a hostage with. My memories? If they were able to do that before, then why am I still here? Suzue said I knew too much, but memory wiping would resolved that easily.

You're still useful to them. You remain indecisive. That true. I do still have a choice whether to join or forget. But I still cannot be Athens right choice yet. I'm still thinking this over like I'm crazy.

Join the Devils? Forget this ever happened? My instinct is telling me to run like it always had been since I first witnesses their demonic powers. Forget. Maybe, not a bad choice. Forget about this new discovery and just continue to live . . . live.

Live. No, exist, that's the better word. I'm barely even living, just existing. What us the point of living if you don't live your life. This thing around my chest, or whether it is now. That surge of power, mine. My power. Akane knew I had it when I didn't know it existed.

But still . . . I should ask more.

"You can do that?"

I directed the question to Takeshi, but Masako was the one who answered.

"Only Lady Akane has that ability among us. As a high class devil, it's a requirement to know how to alter memories to cover our tracks so we don't get caught. If she couldn't do a simple spell like that, she never would have gotten permission to leave the Underworld."

Altering memories is simple? Jesu-, can I think like this without hurting them? Probably. Never mind.

Despite having dodged the question I directed his way, Takeshi actually replied to Masako's explanation. "You talk too much, Masako."

"If he doesn't agree, then we'll have his memory erased. I seen I problem. Oh, thank God. A- . . . hmm, guess I was right. Well, at least maybe Masako. Is warming up to me, seeing as she would hav- "*sniff*sniff* Or I could kill him now."

. . . What is it out her and my smell? I don't stink, so stop sniffing me, it's creepy. "S-seriously, I'm wearing d-deodorant. But-t you making these threats is only going to make me sw-sweat even more."

"Halt."

Akane commanded everyone to stop, holding up her right hand as well as indication. I looked around from the centre of the room. Nothing. It was all just empty. Old machine in bright orange and unsettling shades of green as bacteria started to feast on it.

"I am Akane of the Naberius Clan. I issue a challenge to the devil residing here. The winner lives and the loser dies. Do you accept?"

Did she just shout into the darkness. Tigers was nothing. No reply came. No voice or mov rents stirred. The wind blowing the broken windiws and crumpled doorway. But no voices. Her question echoed throughout the room, give, no six times I could hear her last four syllables before it too died.

Nothing spoke back after ten long seconds. Only our breaths were audible. It seemed like this whole thing was a waste of-

"Naberius?"

I stood corrected. Someone else was here.

"The house of mutts has come to claim my head?"

It was female, but it wasn't the kind of voice that melted into your ears. Despite the sift and echoing tone, it felt like insects trying to crawl inside you with the delicate touch of hundreds of creeping legs.

I didn't want to stay here.

"I'll wait outsi-"

"No. Stay."

Having been caught with Masako's sword firmly wedged into my back, and a coldness that shivered down where it struck that I thought I was bleeding. I really couldn't escape.

The voice was still hiding in the darkness. "Name your pieces."

"King, Kinght, Rook, Pawns duo."

After Akane had finished replying, there was a serpentine rattling and a draconic hiss. It echoed in the warehouse. It sounded from behind, above, in front, underneath, and any other directions I could think of.

"I see six, but you name five." I swore for a brief moment that two glowing lights were looking at me before disappearing again. At a height of ten feet, I was scared standing. "Human. But, . . . more."

Crap. It was like she, or it, or whatever, was able to tell. She knew about the Sacred Gear? Am I right in thinking that what she meant?

"You want to add him to the fold?"

I jumped back at Akane's proposal. I didn't want to be here, and his she's young to force me to fight for my life as well! "Hang on-"

I was cut off when the voice replied. "Six enter, and six will never leave. Yes. I will fight six. That is accepted."

Well, guess this is the end. Please don't be right about this. Why am I thinking about this? Please don't be thinking about this.

I was shaking now. Like, really I was shaking. I didn't care for the sword in my back or the scary new surroundings. Whatever was lurking in the dark was going to kill me, and I was- I was- , *gasp* I-, I- I-. *gasp*gasp*

"Relax, Zenjirou."

Sweat was dropping. My eyes were feeling dry and sore. My teeth hurt and my body felt colder. Without Akane grabbing me, I could have had a panic attack.

Wait? She said Zenjirou. Not Zeni-kun, Zenjirou. They were right. This was serious. They knew from the start. She knew it as much as well. This wasn't all just a big game. Their lives were at stake too.

I looked at her, straight on. With everyone ends already staring, I'd already lost all sense of awkwardness. The smile on her face wasn't soft. It was determined, and certain.

"With one more person, we just raised our probability to 110% victory."

Her voice was leaking with confidence. She was aware of the stakes, but she wasn't afraid. All the heat that left mesas coming back. A little too much for this moment, but I couldn't stop it. Her relaxed burgundy eyes were blazing in green, strong and wilful.

I don't know what she did, but my body was no longer shaking or sweating or hyperventilating. All traces of fear except in my expression had thawed out from over me.

She let go of me, releasing both her hands from my elbows. She turned and faced the darkness, standing ahead of everyone, with a blazing green aura lightly surrounding her. Then, her peerage lined up alongside her with Masako's standing partially right, Suzue further right, Tajeshi directly in front of her, and Kumi to his right.

I was roped in also against my own accord, standing to Akanes right, behind Kumi and her jet plane wings.

""""Your orders?"""" they all asked at once.

With a short smile that straightened into a poker face, Akane held her right arm out. A circle formed beneath her. The same green light from the previous night. However, now there were three smaller circles forming;

The first expanded into the outer walls of the warehouse, then erupted into flames. A shadowed figure was still present, even as most of the darkness was extinguished. I could see the height of ten feet, but nothing too much more than that.

The second circle zapped into the walls like a laser beam and the building sparked until the lights came on, or what remained out the lighting system in this place. A few bulbs bro he and those that survived were too dim to make much of a difference. I could see hair now, long and flowing, and a feminine form upper half with something long and coiling below the waste. Headlight eyes were visible once more, and a few shines of sharp teeth also.

The third and last circle rolled up the walls nod encased themselves around the bibles, existing and broken alike. Then, crystallising into clear ice, the room shone to full life, like the Sun was above our heads. Now standing in opposition was a half devil half snake, with green scales encasing her lower. Half and further creeping up her spine. Sharp fangs and gold slit eyes were piercing through me. Talon fingers and a rattling tail, with two bat-like wings sprouted from behind.

"Masako, H3-G5-H7-F8, sweeping right. Bring her centre. Suzue, A5-E5, cutting left. Encirclement."

""Yes, Akane.""

With their orders received, Masako took off, appearing several times, but ultimately disappearing on her path. Unlike her faster counterpart, Suzue ran straight upwards, without paying any attention to the mutant in the centre of the room.

"Takeshi, E2-E4, forward line. Promote to Knight. Hold her back and strike."

"On it. Promotion: Knight!"

Takeshi stepped up, and for a brief moment flashed like something inside him had changed. He stayed there without moving any further, but he seemed to be more on edge like he suddenly had an energy boost.

Finally, Masako reappeared, cutting her blade into the back of the snake hybrid. Smoke and screaming were followed as the blade made contact. Toxic blood splattered and more smoke sizzled from the puddles.

With her position of defence broken, Suzue charged in from the side, now standing behind her also, landing a solid punch that knocked her towards Takeshi.

"Attacking pieces, Knight, Rook, N-Pawn. Strike at will."

""Yes, Akane."" "Finally, now it's my turn."

Takeshi pulled up his right arm. The purple claw morphed into a blade-like component, and he disappeared into a flash like Masako. He appeared in the way of collision and made a deep insertion into the left arm, then proceeded to cut it off from here he pierced.

Thick puddles of this molten and poisoned blood were scattered all over the warehouse, as blades cut and punches were thrown. It almost seemed like overkill. 110%, I have no idea how I even made a difference since I was doing nothing but watching. Not that I'm complaining, I would not want to be dipping my hands in whatever liquid she's leaking, not with it still bubbling.

I looked over at Akane, who instead of revelling in victory was showing huge concern.

Shouldn't she be glad they're winning? I had no idea what was running through her mind. Was she disappointed in an easy victory? No, I doubted that was what was making her slight uneasy.

"Kumi, standby. Promote to Bishop. Await for further orders."

Kumi nodded. "Alright then. Promotion: Bishop."

In another short flash of light, Kumi seemed to gain more energy like Takeshi, but instead of being itching to release it, the energy started slowly building into an aura similar to Akane's, not huge but it was significant.

I still couldn't put my finger on what she was preparing for. I looked over. At all the damage being inflicted on the creature. I was shocked. That this . . . was a devil like these guys, and how monstrous it now looked, or maybe it had always looked like that.

The pointed teeth, the dark slit eyes, the drooling smile, the recoiling tai- . . . wait. Smile? Smiling at Stimson like this? Oh, crap. This couldn't be a good sign. No wonder Akane seemed bothered.

Then it happened; inspire of all firms of bombarded attacks, all three forget about the rattling tail. Retracting back, it swung at them as they jumped towards her at once. With no sense of stopping,not heir reactions were too late. Slamming against the great scaly thing. Thrown back in all directions, the three person encirclement was broken in one hit.

Not only that, but the blood that soaked her skin and splattered in all directions were burning. Takeshi, Suzue and Masako were all steaming and their clothes were starting to burn away. Bleeding in places and news cuts opening up as the toxic blood seeped onto their skins.

It wanted this. The cuts, the blood loss. It wanted to get them covered in it.

It got much worse though; now I was on the frontline. And two smirking eyes were focused on me.

"Oh, shit. She broke through!"

I couldn't have been more right. With no wall between us, the snake did what any snake did; shed its skin. The outer layer filled with cuts and bruises were pulled off like a pair of loathes that could of easily been taken off. The severed limb didn't recover, but the wound was closed over. All that damage was gone for nought.

Licking at her fresh skin, the creature raised its claw. Toxic black and grey energy started to draw into it, firming into a all, and then it started pouring over like an overfilled bucket. More of her toxic blood started to spill.

"She's vulnerable. That new skin is still fresh."

Akane was observing her. The blood was definitely leaking off her right hand, like the skin had stated peeking again, but might her own doing.

"Taste my precious poison. It has been fun playing, but I cannot have fresh meat going to waste this quickly."

I flinched as the ball started moving on its own. It operated in zig-zag patterns all above and around her, before finally it chose a direction, and shot straight towards Akane.

I looked at her, but now her concern was replaced. Not by fear, but a smile. She wanted and expected this. "Time to play my surprise piece."

I looked over at Kumi, but she was preparing for anything. Her aura was still building and she was still playing in defence. I shot a look at the other three but they were too far away to make a move."Who?"

She then turned her head . . . and looked at me. Oh no. "Zenjirou, D1-E2, tag out. You're it."

I widened as her hand reached for me. "What?"

She pulled at me, and now I was a human shield. I stood between her and the incoming missile. Sizzling and smoking, I saw what it did to Devils, but it would cook me inside and out I was sure of it.

"Oh, guess you'll have die instead, human."

The creature couldn't care less, but I sure as hell did. I was going to die!

"Oh crap!"

My heart was pounding. I was going to die! I don't want to die! Please, No!

Then, Akane tucked her arms under mine and locked herself around my body. She then propped herself up on her toes, pulled me down slightly and kissed my neck. I felt flustered, and my heart was pounding even harder now. My attention was divided between imitate death and this soft sensation.

I don't want to die! I can't die now! I won't die here, not after this! Not like this! Not now!

Then she let go smiling, and pushed firmly into my back.

[Equate!]

A flash of yellow light and my Sacred Gear was around my chest. With the Toxic magic heading straight at me, I had no chance escaping impact.

"Fuuuck!"

[Equate! Equate! Equate!]

I felt a large force striking against my Gear. Something felt like it was building in my chest. My body was shaking holding it and standing against it. My Gear continued repeating itself as the energy building inside it increased. And then, it all fired out.

[EQUATE!]

A surge of golden light erupted from my chest, with streams of navy blue lining the counter attack. With all that energy released I fell to my backside.

"Gaaah!"

The energy landed successfully against the stray devil, her new serpentine skin was too raw to be if any protection and the attack ripped her in two. I stood back up to see her lower half shattered while her upper half plopped in a puddle of own blood. Now even she was feeling the sting of her own poison.

"Well, fuck me. He actually did something useful."

"He reflected the attack back at the stray."

"No, the armour absorbed the ball and discharged the energy into an attack of its own."

I looked around as Takeshi, Masako and Suzue all stood up and brushed themselves off. They didn't even react too hurt. The fuck?

Though there reactions were genuine, even the straight face Suzue still had, they were all faking their unconsciousness. That attack probably didn't even phase them. Their clothes were burnt, cut and torn, even showing several areas of skin through two layers of uniform. And blood was soaking in several key areas too.

I took a step, but felt all the energy I had suddenly drop to zero. I collapsed onto one knee, but then found I couldn't even hold myself up with my hand. I fell breathing heavily.

Akane walked to my side, and started stroking my hair. I felt like she was petting me like a dog, but I was too tired to say no.

"Kumi, D2-E3, weaken her. I'll finish it."

"Yes, Akane."

Kumi stepped in front if me, with her wings extended out to their fullest. The small green aura she was building up started radiating from her Gear.

{Subtract!}

A female voice spoke rather than a male one like mine. The green aura oilseed out in waves overthrew effected. Stray, who resorted to crawling, though the. Redness of her. Skin showed so much irritation that movement was painful. Eventually she couldn't love at all.

Akane stepped back up as Kumi stood to the side.

"Any last words before you see oblivion?"

Akane asked her before producing a green magic circle around the defeated opponent.

"Hehe, trying to reel in another. You only make the risk even higher for yourself. One of these days, he'll try to kill you. I can see it shining off that fancy toy of his."

Akane only replied with a smile "Thanks for your concern." The circle floated for a short while, before her up body shattered into million pieces. Nothing was left except for the various piles of acidic blood "Checkmate, Green wins."

"*gasp*gasp* I am not *gasp*gasp* doing that *gasp*gasp* again."

Akane turned around and knelt by me, holding my head up and giggling at my pathetic state. "Don't be like, Zeni-kun. Your field test was successful."

"*gasp* What? *gasp*gasp*"

"That Sacred Gear around your chest is the ultimate counter-sheild; as long as your stamina and magic are strong enough to hold out, nothing thrown your way can ever not be yours to throw back."

"Is *gasp*gasp* that why *gasp*gasp*gasp* I'm wiped?"

"Pretty much. Sleep tight. I'll see you this evening ok."

"*gasp*gasp*gasp*gasp* Wait! *gasp*gasp* Akan- *gasp*gasp*"

I blacked out. The lack of air and energy finally won over me.

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