UN: I'll just leave this here.
The closer they got to where the sound came from the worse the vegetation got, becoming denser and harder for Eliza to manoeuvre through quickly while her sekirei adapted to the environment with relative ease.
"Hey you! Identify yourself and fight me!" She heard from ahead and sighed internally at the sound of her newest sekirei picking a fight.
"Who the hell are you?"
"Identify yourselves first!" Benitsubasa yelled back just as Eliza managed to catch up, coming around a particularly large tree to find her girls facing twin brunettes in interesting outfits with what she assumed to be their ashikabi standing behind them.
Taking a few deep gasps of air to regain her somewhat regular breathing, the teenager thought to herself that she really needed to work on her fitness if she was planning to try and keep up with her sekirei. With a quick look behind the sekirei Benitsubasa was picking a fight with, she noticed a small blonde girl and guessed they were in the right place. She stood up straight, looking determined.
"Since the rule is one on one and there's two of your girls," She paused as she looked to her newest sekirei, who had looked to her when she started speaking and indicated for them two to step forward. Haihane grinned evilly, flexing her claws as her sister cracked her knuckles, both stepping forward in unison.
"Care to go a few rounds?" Eliza asked cockily, adorning her confident ashikabi persona which seemed to be her new style of dealing with sekirei battles.
The twins shared a look before the darker clothed one spoke. "We're not interested in fighting winged sekirei."
"Yeah so we'll be on our way." The other added before they both quickly turned, grabbing their ashikabi and retreating back through the forest.
"Hey! Come back here and fight you cowards!" The fist type yelled, angry that she had yet again lost an opportunity to impress her ashikabi with her fighting skills.
"Huh. If all I need to be is overly confident to avoid fight, I might manage to bluff my way through this horrible game." Eliza mused to herself. However, before she could even think of what to do next, yelling from near the blonde girl caught her attention.
"You!" A woman's voice screamed. "You're the one who stole from my master!"
"Err…" Eliza responded as she turned to look at a yelling, scythe wielding woman. She was at a loss, she didn't know who this dangerous screaming woman was, and she was pretty sure she hadn't stolen from her or her 'master'. "Well okay I admit I stole some data from MBI but normally I hardly ever do anything illegal." She turned to shrug at her confused looking sekirei, her eyes stopping briefly on her shortest sekirei. "Maybe I'm getting a bad reputation, Beni did think I was a criminal…"
"Do I know you?" She asked, generally confused about what she was being accused of and by whom.
"I am Yomi, No.43 and I will defeat you and claim what belongs to my master." She announced, swinging her scythe to empathise her point.
"Okay…" Eliza drew out the word unsure before continuing. "Guess we're just going to fight without any explanation as to what I stole."
"Hey! We were fighting!" Another woman yelled (embarrassingly another person Eliza had not noticed, she really needed to be more aware of her surroundings).
Eliza's eyes followed the voice, noting a young man behind Yomi's previous opponent on the floor while holding the blonde girl. He looked familiar.
"Fine." The scythe woman sighed as she turned her attention back to the fight. "I'll deal with you first." Leaping forward at an inhuman speed, she swiped her weapon at her enemy, the air collecting around the metal of the scythe before being flung towards the other sekirei acting with the force of a hammer and the sharpness of a knife. It pushed the other girl back while slicing through part of her shirt.
It was only when observing the air manipulation that Eliza noticed the broken end of the scythe and wondered what had happed to it. Unfortunately, she could not solely focus of watching the battle, her fear of other ashikabi and sekirei finding them at the forefront of her mind now that her girls were not involved in a battle.
"Haihane, Kochou, be on the lookout for any approaching enemies. I don't want any surprise attacks." The two women nodded, turning away from the fight to keep an eye out. "Benitsubasa, you up to fight the winner?"
The shorter girl grinned, "I'll crush them for you ashikabi."
Eliza nodded before turning to her last sekirei, "Stay close and watch my back." She said, trusting Akitsu to protect her and feeling safer knowing she had saved her before.
"Of course, ashikabi." She said stepping closer, so she was in arms reach.
Now satisfied they were somewhat prepared while being in a battle zone, she turned back to the fight to see the hand to hand fighter nearly stripper of her clothes with Yomi taunting her while still claiming it was her ashikabi who was a pervert.
"Maybe this fight would be over quicker if that sekirei focused more on injuring her opponent rather than attacking her clothes." The teen wondered aloud and though she would rather not see the bloody effects a scythe could have on a body, she didn't know how the sekirei planned to win with this strategy. Was she hoping the woman would terminate due to embarrassment? That didn't look like an effective battle tactic.
The ground shook as the fighter dodged another wind scythe attack, jumping to stand in front of her own ashikabi.
"Musubi!" He yelled, clutching the blonde girl close as he revealed the other sekirei's name.
"Don't worry Minto, Musubi will not lose." She reassured him before returning to the fight, suddenly leaping past the scythe attacks with ease before flipping behind the girl and ripping of her clothes.
Turning her eyes away as she ran her hand through her hair, Eliza commented, "How come this fight just seems to be them stripping each other of clothes?"
"Fist of my contract! Break the unhappiness of my Ashikabi."
She turned back in time to squint at a bright flash of light and then see Yomi's body slump to the ground. A sombre feeling washed over her at the site. She hadn't made the call and it wasn't as bloody, but the woman was still gone. Another dead in this sick game. And enemy or not, it didn't feel right.
Eliza forced herself back to the issue at hand to see the ashikabi checking on his sekirei while holding the little girl. She had come here for a reason, she couldn't forget that. "I can't just let you leave." She said seriously as it seemed the young man was not planning to stick around.
"Yeah! I'm Benitsubasa, No.105, your opponent and I'm going to prove I am the best fist type sekirei!" The red sekirei yelled, pumped for a fight and seeming to have a particular grudge already against the other sekirei.
Musubi turned ready to fight again when Eliza saw the girl clutch tighter to the young man and plead, "Big brother don't let them take me."
"Big brother?" Eliza questioned, shocked at the term.
The green girl looked her dead in the eye from the safety of 'brother's' arms and responded, "Yes, he is my ashikabi."
The teen blinked at the realisation, not considering that the girls true ashikabi could have found his way to her in time and that he was not another ashikabi attempting to force the winging. Then again, she wasn't here for that either, so it wasn't illogical for there to be other ashikabis that responded to Minaka's text who were actually decent and trying to help the green girl out.
"Oh, sorry. I thought you were another one of those jerks trying to get as many sekirei as they can. My bad." She said attempting a reassuring smile and she stepped forward to place a hand on Benitsubasa to stop her from attempting a fight. "You better get going though, she's still unwinged. Others might still be coming." She warned.
"You're letting them go?" Red eyes turned to her, incredulously.
She shrugged. "Why not? She's not my sekirei and he seems an alright guy, kind of familiar actually…" She trailed off as she frowned slightly at him. "Have we met before?"
"Er I don't think so." He rubbed the back of his neck with his free hand, while trying to dig through his memory.
"He was the student at the library the day we met. Minato Sahashi, a 19 year old, 2nd year ronin." Kochou helpfully informed from behind.
"How did you…?" He questioned.
"She's an information sekirei, basically means she's incredibly smart." Eliza automatically responded before kicking herself internally for revealing that information to a stranger. "Anyway, we better be going, good luck and all." She said, hoping to leave before she revealed too much about herself or her girls and set them at a disadvantage.
She had managed to pull Benitsubasa towards herself and was walking away, back the way they came when Minato called out to her.
"Hey, I know this game is us against each other, but you seem like you want the best for your sekirei and maybe, er maybe we could be friends." He managed to get out, sounding nervous at the offer.
"Yay friends!" Musubi added, jumping slightly in her excitement. Eliza was pretty sure she heard Benitsubasa groan in disgust at the prospect.
"Well I don't really know you," Eliza began looking briefly to her sekirei for hints at there feelings but other than the annoyance radiating off the girl beside her, the others were wearing pretty impressive stoic expressions. "I really need to learn to read their expressions better." She thought to herself before continuing, "but maybe we can be allies to start with."
The guy seemed to heave a sigh of relief. "Seems fair." He said, smiling at them.
"Here." She said pulling out her phone. "Take my number. Call me some time and we'll meet up and discuss stuff." She shrugged. "Check up on…"
"Kusano." Minato supplied as Eliza gave a soft smile to the blonde girl who returned it much more welcomingly with the knowledge this ashikabi wasn't trying to steal her from her big brother.
"Kusano." She repeated before suddenly remembering that while her information sekirei had given her his name, he didn't know hers. "My name's Eliza by the way, and these are my sekirei." She introduced herself before introducing her girls, not listing their types this time though just to be safe, even if he was going to be her ally in this game.
Smiling back Minto reintroduced himself along with his sekirei, Musubi, No.88 before exchanging numbers.
"Right, now we have to leave, see ya." Eliza said and turned back to her sekirei, definitely leaving this time.
"Bye!" Musubi yelled excitedly along with a more subdued goodbye from her ashikabi.
And with that the five women left their new allies and headed back through the forest at a quick pace, hoping not to run into anyone else on the way out, or at least most of them were, a couple of them still wanted to prove their skill and would have been eager to fight anyone foolish enough to cross them.
The trip back felt pretty long, the group travelling in relative silence, most still on edge even when they were out of the unnatural forest and on the train home. It wasn't until they reached home that most of them began to relax, Benitsubasa going off to pout on the sofa about not getting to fight while Haihane made her way to the kitchen for a snack.
Reaching out to gently turn her information sekirei to face her before she walked off, Eliza asked, "Can you run a check on Minato? I want to know if we can trust him."
"Of course we can't! He's a weakling and an enemy!" Benitsubasa interrupted before Kochou could answer.
"You're just jealous that his fist type has bigger boobs than you." Haihane's input could be heard from the kitchen around whatever she was eating.
"Take that back!" She yelled getting to her feet, her temper already flaring.
"Can you?" Eliza repeated, focusing on the issue.
"I'll see to it." Kochou said, pushing her glassed up her nose, adopting a completely professional persona as she turned and headed to the bedroom with her computers in it.
Trying her best to ignore the squabbling on her two newest sekirei, the ashikabi tried to stifle a sigh before she turned to Akitsu who was still standing by her side. With a cheeky smile she asked, "Any chance I can convince you to show of your amazing cooking skills with dinner?"
With a slight blush and a small smile, the ice sekirei nodded, "Of course, ashikabi." She squeezed her destined one's hand slightly trying to comfort her in response to the sigh she had noticed. Smiling genuinely back with a small nod, Eliza let go of the hand and moved over to the sofa.
"Hey, you two," She called to the bickering sekirei. "Want to join me on the sofa?"
The question was instantly reacted to and soon she had two girls cuddling up to her as the arguing ceased for the moment. Reaching for the controller, Eliza couldn't help but feel the weight of all that was plaguing her mind. She flipped aimlessly through channels before settling for anything so long as something on the TV was playing. Her two companions on the sofa didn't seem to notice, content with cuddling up to their ashikabi.
Minato had just added to her worries, while maybe not her biggest threat at the moment, he was still a concern. Even if she did find reason to trust him, that he wouldn't betray her at the first chance. It wouldn't matter. Only one ashikabi could win. One way or another he would have to lose for her to win, even if the act wasn't committed by her hand or that of her girls. Could she afford to get that close to him, to consider him a friend if it was all going to end the same way, in despair? Allies would be useful in this game, but could she truthfully deal with the consequences of making connection outside her sekirei? Was any of this truly worth this prize Minaka offered?
Then again that didn't matter either. She didn't want to lose these ladies she had already grown far too attached to, far too quickly. She knew she was going to fight in this game. She just wasn't sure how she was going to deal with this weight growing on her conscience.