I was planning on updating more today than I actually have due to it being the Summer Solstice but once again, my concentration has refused to co-operate with me... I'm really going to have to get my ass into gear again and get back to writing consistently.
But anyway... for now, I'll just leave it at this and get on with the fic.
Minaka couldn't stop himself from watching in amazement at the video he had been sent by a loyal operative.
To think that Kashima would so easily overpower a foe like that beast with red skin.
He had expected the boy to be strong, but he hadn't expected his sheer power to be so great that he would accidentally kill a demon.
That was the single most impressive part of the entire video.
Crushing the beast's head like a grape only for the surprise to appear on the boy's face immediately upon realizing what he had just done.
Of course, the fact that the surprise was so brief made it obvious that the surprise wasn't about killing the beast, but noticing the loss of control that had caused the death in the first place.
But then again… what else should he expect from a being known as the Hitoshura.
The fact that knowledge of that particular event hadn't spread much, with only a couple of people outside of his agent having filmed it and those videos being dismissed as hoaxes due to the sheer impossibility of what happened, made everything easier for him.
Having number zero two remove them from the internet was easy enough and she was thorough enough to leave no trace of it behind.
Meaning it would be forgotten soon enough.
But it certainly made things more interesting.
He briefly contemplated showing Gabby that particular video, but he dismissed that idea… letting her see it would probably let her know that he now knew about a good chunk of what was going on.
For now, he would keep it to his chest and keep it out of his secretary's eye.
After all, he didn't want her to figure out he was playing her.
Next up however, was finding someone very special and seeing if they would join in the fun.
XXX A Devil's Wings XXX
Matsu couldn't stop herself from releasing as sigh as she considered the information she had sent to Minaka.
She wasn't completely sure about all of it, but she did have reason to believe everything she had forwarded to him.
The fact that even Miya had agreed that they stood the best chance at dealing with this issue if Minaka was on their side certainly made the fact she was trusting the man feel more reasonable… but she still wasn't sure if he could be trusted to do what was best for the universe.
After all, she never truly understood his motivations given his quirks making him hard to judge.
On one hand, he could very well do everything he could to protect the world, but on the other, he could just as easily choose to make things even worse just so he could get some entertainment out of the situation.
So relying on him wasn't something she wished to have to do.
At least with Miya agreeing with the idea, she knew she really didn't have many other choices open to her at the moment.
"Matsu-san? Are you in there?" she perked up at the voice of her Ashikabi calling into her room.
It really was something she would've taken advantage of if it wasn't for the whole War of Angels and Demons that was going on under their noses.
But as much as she wanted to engage in perverted activities with Minato… there were more important matters to deal with.
"What is it Mina-tan?" she found herself asking before the door opened to reveal the black haired College hopeful with bags under his eyes.
"Sorry… I just…" he sounded tired and she found herself torn between her current work and the man she was bonded to.
But in the end, she was a Sekirei.
"What's wrong?" she asked even as she found herself wondering just how engulfed in her research she was to have missed his state.
"Uh… I… I've been having trouble sleeping," he told her and she found herself silently thinking about how silly it was that he thought she couldn't figure it out, "I've… been having… dreams? Nightmares?... I really don't know."
The fact that he wasn't sure what to think of these 'dreams' that were apparently causing problems made her curious about their content.
"What're they about?" she asked with a frown.
"Uh… th-they're about… a blonde woman threatening to kill me," he told her with a slouch that made him look even smaller than normal.
"What did she look like?" she asked even as she turned back to her computer and brought up the database of all known Sekirei.
"We-well she had long hair, black clothes…" he seemed to hesitate for a moment, "she… she had a scary face."
She looked through the database quickly before his voice spoke up again.
"D-do you know what's happening?" he asked and she found herself releasing a sigh at his inability to connect the dots himself.
She would really have to do something about that as soon as everything had settled down.
"It's like with Kuu-chan," she told him simply, causing his eyes to widen in surprise, "us Sekirei are slightly psychic so it's possible for them to connect to their destined Ashikabi that way."
Obviously that surprised him.
However she quickly dismissed any thought on that as she brought up the profile of the only Sekirei that fit the description that was left unwinged.
"By the way Mina-tan, the girl you saw in the dream… was it by any chance her?" she asked him as she moved the profile picture to one of the larger screens for him to get a better look before turning to face him once again.
"Ah!" his reaction was immediate and made it clear to her that the Sekirei on the screen was the one he had dreamed about, "ye-yes, that's her, that's her! She really was a Sekirei!"
She immediately found herself deflating at that.
"Hey… Mastu-san?" his voice called out and she decided to just be blunt.
"That is number zero nine, Tsukiumi," she explained with her tiredness coming through, "she's a Sekirei with water abilities and a serial hatred of Ashikabi."
It was obvious that her words made it clear to him that the other Sekirei wouldn't be easy for him to win over.
But in the end… she found herself somewhat less worried about her then she probably should've been… but then again, Minato had the demon summoning app and she had already discovered the sheer difference in power between the two species.
After all, even something as small and insignificant as Hua Po had already shown itself to be more than capable of treating Sekirei like bad jokes.
"S-so she's dangerous," he said with the nervousness clear in his tone.
"You have a demon," she pointed out dismissively, "if you appear to be in danger, then it would be more than capable of dealing with her."
His surprised look made it clear he hadn't expected that response from her.
"In the end, if Mina-tan wants Tsukiumi, then Mina-tan can get Tsukiumi," she pointed out with a shrug, "normally Matsu would say Mina-tan should try to get a new Sekirei… but with Tsukiumi… it's up to Mina-tan if he wants to put up with her."
The dumbfounded expression he gave her was proof that he hadn't expected such a response.
"What if I don't wing her?" he asked and she found herself releasing another sigh at the fact he chose to ask a question with such an obvious answer.
"You'll keep having the dreams until either she's terminated or winged by someone else," she told him
With that claim, she noted the way he seemed to think before a determined glint entered his eyes.
"I'll do it," his voice didn't waver and she found her lip curling up at that declaration.
"Well then, good luck," she said even as she turned back to the computer.
"T-thanks Matsu-san," his voice was clearly grateful and she found herself smiling in response, "uh… do you have any idea where I can find her?"
"No, but I'll do what I can to find out."
XXX A Devil's Wings XXX
Minato found himself releasing a sigh as he considered the situation with Tsukiumi.
As much as he found himself being drawn towards the beauty that had haunted his dreams over the past few nights, he found himself feeling a little… squicky at the idea of making a Sekirei wing themselves to him against their will even if they were reacting to him in the first place.
It felt almost like rape.
But… he found himself feeling even sicker at the idea of leaving her to be winged by someone like the Ashikabi of Yomi.
Someone that would hunt down a little girl in order to make her his slave wasn't something he could accept.
He was brought out of his thoughts when a message came through to Matsu's email from…
He found his throat drying at that name.
If it was Minaka that was sending a message, then it was clear it would be related to the demons or angels after all.
The fact that Matsu dropped what she was doing to immediately open it made it obvious even she prioritized it above his request.
The message was simple.
I recently got some interesting video off one of our operatives… hope you enjoy it! :)
The way the head of MBI worded it made him worry.
"Mina-tan, could you get Miya-tan for me," the hacker asked and he found himself nodding in acknowledgement even as he rose from his seat and moved out of the door and made his way towards the living area.
It didn't take him long to find the lavender haired landlady.
"Uh… Miya-san," he called, earning her attention, "Matsu-san just got a video off of Minaka."
The way her eyes widened at that made it clear that she hadn't expected that.
The next thing he knew, she was already moving up the stairs and he found himself moving to catch up.
He wanted to watch the video too after all.
Rushing up the stairs, he made it back to Matsu's room and noted the way Matsu was waiting for him.
"Please close the door Mina-tan," she asked of him and he did as asked before glancing at Miya who simply stood in wait for the video that was about to be played.
"Okay… here we go," and with that, the video started.
The first thing he noted was that the focus of the video was the next-door neighbour, the second thing he noted was the demon being shot by a police officer.
It was massive easily beating eight feet tall, red-skinned and with a horn jutting out of its forehead made it obvious just what the beast was.
The quality of the audio was not that impressive so he only managed to make out some of what Kashima-san was saying even if he thought the casual way he was talking to the beast was suicidal.
Eventually the other boy started to move towards the man who looked to be yelling angrily in the background, though exactly what was being said was lost through the audio quality.
Then the Oni attacked.
It was over before he had time to grow scared for him.
The following scene was an affront to physics but the bored look on Kashima-san's face made it clear that it was nothing special as far as he was concerned.
Whatever camera was being used failed to pick up the conversation between the boy and the demon… but whatever it had said made it clear that it had pissed off the boy.
The fact that he crushed its head by accident only made it all the more terrifying for him as he realized that he must be far stronger than anything he could have imagined.
Eventually though, the clip ended and he found himself sweating.
He had never expected to see something that senselessly brutal committed so effortlessly.
It really showed him just how far out of his depth he was right now.
XXX A Devil's Wings XXX
Miya couldn't stop herself from staring in shock at the video before her.
She had expected Kashima to be powerful, breaking a Sekirei's fist by not dodging was proof that he was such.
However, to see him so effortlessly deal with a demon when Mutsu had commented on being outclassed by one before… it was jarring to say the least.
Of course, there was the question of how powerful that beast was in comparison to an angel, but they had no way of figuring that out…
Wait… they did.
"Sahashi-san," she spoke up and she noted the boy jump in surprise… it made her silently wonder just what Takami did to the boy to make him so jumpy, "can you summon your demon?"
"W-what?" the boy asked with wide eyes.
"I wish to get an idea of how that demon compares to the one our old comrade fought," she decided to simply be honest about the reasoning.
"O-okay," he acknowledged before pulling out his smartphone and activating the Demon Summoning App.
The blue lightning that indicated the appearance of the demon made him glance at Matsu's equipment, worried his summoning had damaged it… but it seemed everything was fine.
"Hello master," the little red-skinned girl with butterfly like wings said with a melodic tone that she was sure was beyond humanities ability to replicate, "what do you need me for?"
"S-sorry… but we were hoping you could give us some information," Minato said to the girl who simply nodded.
"That demon on that video there, how does it compare to an angel?" she asked it and it turned to look at the video in question.
"Well… it's an Oni, so it depends on the type of angel you're talking about," the creature told them without hesitation.
"Wait, Mutsu sent me a photo of it…" Matsu's voice called out and she eventually pulled up a picture of the inside of an opulent manor with several Sekirei and their Ashikabi visible.
"M-M-Matsu!" the young Sahashi cried out as he covered his eyes, "this isn't the time for porn!"
The angel looked far too exposed… almost like one of those… well… she would try to avoid thinking about what it looked like.
"This isn't a joke Mina-tan… this is the actual photo I was given," Matsu stated seriously.
"Yeah, those are how actual guardian angels look," the Hua Po spoke easily, "they're the lowest of the Angels so the Oni could probably take on two or three of them without too much trouble."
Miya felt her blood freeze.
That thing was several times stronger than the angel that Mutsu didn't think she could even hurt… and Kashima had just beaten it with an ease that reminded her of Karasuba cutting through soldiers back during the original invasion of Kamikura island.
Though even there, Karasuba had intended on killing every last one of her targets back then… it was obvious from the expression on Kashima's face that he had crushed it by accident.
For him to be so strong he could do something like that, it meant that her world view of her being the strongest was being shattered beyond any repair.
Even the weakest of demons was beyond her ability to deal with and Kashima was so far beyond them that it was like he was her, fighting against human toddlers.
"Umm… do you know anything about the person who just beat that demon?" the voice of Minato spoke up and she found herself about to chastise him for asking a stupid question when she heard something unexpected.
"Of course I know about Hitoshura-sama," the creature admitted without hesitation, "he's the demon that Lucifer created to kill god."
Silence reigned at that claim before the only possible response happened.
"WHAT?!" she found herself asking alongside both of the other mortals in the room.
To find out that her neighbours old student was a demon created to kill god was not something she had ever expected to happen.
"He is the demon that Lucifer created to kill god," the little fairy repeated and she found herself growing unsteady at the mere concept.
"I-if that's the case," Matsu's voice spoke up, "then why did he go to high school?"
"Because Lucifer used a human base… probably something to do with Observation," it continued with a shrug.
"What do you mean by that? Was Lucifer watching him for a long time?" Matsu's voice asked and the demonic creature simply snorted.
"Don't be stupid," the red girl responded with derision clear in her tone, "why would he waste his time watching one insignificant human?"
That… didn't make sense.
"B-but you're the one who said Lucifer was observing him!" Matsu pointed out and she found herself agreeing with that claim.
"No, I said Lucifer used a human base because of Observation," the little girl said it as if it was obvious what she was talking about.
It just made Miya angry that the girl wasn't giving a proper explanation.
"Uh… what do you mean by Observation?" the voice of Sahashi called out and she found herself releasing a sigh at the fact he was asking about such a simple word.
"I mean the power the Great Will gave humanity duh," the creature stated and she froze.
The 'power' the 'Great Will' gave humanity?
"I… don't know what that is," the black haired boy admitted and the creature looked at him with a hint of surprise on its face.
"Really?" the blinks that followed that question made it clear it was genuinely surprised by that, "well… when the Great Will created humanity, it gave them the power to shape the universe through their beliefs."
She found her heart skipping at that claim.
The mere thought of such a thing being possible was ridiculous.
"I mean, take us demons, angels, gods etcetera," the Chinese tree spirit started to explain, "we're pretty much nothing more than the primordial energy of the Expanse filtered through the Sea of Souls… it's… basically the plane of existence where the collective human consciousness resides, without observation, we are formless, but with it, we take the shape that humanity invented."
"So that would mean that humanity created gods and demons," Matsu said with a thoughtful frown, "but what about us Sekirei?"
"I dunno," the little girl responded without a second thought, "I've never even heard of your species before."
That… was annoying to say the least.
"So… if this 'Hitoshura' is working for Lucifer, then I guess it's our enemy," Matsu concluded and she found herself internally frowning at that.
To be up against a foe that so vastly outclassed a being that vastly outclassed a being that vastly outclassed the Sekirei species was a truly terrifying prospect.
"I guess," the Hua Po responded with a frown of its own, "of course… there is the question of why he's here in the first place."
"Because they're planning on using the Sekirei Plan to bypass the Conception," Matsu's voice admitted.
The way the fairy-like demon frowned at that was clear.
"Really? That doesn't make sense," it responded with confusion, "why not just do the Conception like normal instead of hijacking something already in progress to bypass it?"
"We don't know," Matsu admitted, causing the demon to frown even more.
"Well… I think finding out why they're going through a different process is something you should find out," the creature admitted, "because I get the feeling there is even more going on than you realize."
That statement only made Miya even more uncertain.
Things were already bad enough as it was, to find out they could potentially be even worse was not good at all.
"Anyway, I'll get back to trying to find Tsukiumi-san… I at least know where to start with that," Matsu's voice called out and Miya found herself releasing a sigh.
That was the problem they faced after all.
They just didn't know where to start.
XXX A Devil's Wings XXX
To think that this was where it all really started for him.
Coming across the closed off park while looking for Isamu and Chiaki before they visited the Shinjuku Medical Centre was the first time he had met the person who introduced him to the country's premier Occult Magazine.
And they were going to be meeting once again.
He noted the figure walking his direction and immediately identified the form of Hijiri Jyouji, his age starting to catch up with him if the grey hairs he was developing were anything to go off of.
He hadn't forgotten about Hijiri's actions in the Vortex World, but he had learned the truth and could understand why the man had acted as such.
Even if Hijiri didn't remember what had happened after the Conception, he was still someone that had committed a sin grave enough that he had been cursed for eternity.
Of course, he wasn't one to complain about the so called 'Sin', after all, he had heard himself that he had committed a grave sin when he had recreated the universe the way it had been instead of creating a brand new one.
"Kashima-san!" the man called out to him jovially, causing him to offer a smile in response.
"Hijiri-san," his response was calm as the man stopped near him before looking at the other parkgoers.
"So, where should we talk?" the reporter asked and he simply motioned his head past the entrance and towards one of the ponds.
"Over there should be good enough," he commented as he started to make his way there with the older man following right behind.
Eventually, they found themselves right where he had suggested before he summoned Pixie discreetly.
"Hey Pixie, you know what to do right now right?" he asked the little red-head even as she kept herself out of phase of human perception.
It didn't take long for the demonic girl to set up a barrier for their privacy.
"So what's the scoop?" Hijiri asked and Naoki closed his eyes as he considered how he would explain the situation to the man.
"Someone has created a smartphone app that can summon demons and is spreading it around," he decided to be blunt, "and to make matters worse, an Oni I interrogated said the world was going to end."
He noted the hiss that came from his contact at that claim.
"So another Conception," the man said and he found himself nodding.
"Most likely," he acknowledged, "the question is what they're doing to prepare for it."
That was the real stinger in everything.
He knew that the process to start the Conception wasn't easy, but it most certainly wasn't impossible.
Hikawa had proven that much when he had managed to cause it twenty years ago.
"Do you think it's Hikawa again?" Hijiri asked him and he found himself shaking his head.
"I doubt it… it goes against his M.O," it was true, Hikawa tended to prefer precision, simply spreading the Demon Summoning Application would be too random for the man's liking.
It wasn't impossible that he was responsible, but it was unlikely.
"True… he is a bit of a control-freak," his current company acknowledged, "so what do you want me to do?"
"Try and find as much information as you can," it was a simple job and it was certainly what the man was best at, "if you get into trouble…"
He pulled out the phone he had gotten from the thug who had summoned the Oni.
"This has the app on it," he told the man, "summoning from it might be dangerous so be careful."
The man nodded with gratitude as he took the phone.
Admittedly, giving the phone to him wasn't the only use he could have for the object, after all, he had other contacts he was going to meet concerning this and they would definitely be interested in analysing the app.
But the safety of Hijiri was important.
And he would probably find another person with the app sooner or later.
"Are you bringing anyone else in on this?" the question was obvious and he found himself simply nodding.
"This is an apocalyptic situation," he pointed out, "I'm not going to just try to deal with it myself."
The man nodded in acknowledgement, when the fate of humanity was on the line then it was only natural that another group would be brought in.
"Well, I hope your meeting with them goes well," the older man said even as he put his cream coloured hat back on his head.
"So do I," he admitted as the meeting came to a close, "oh and before I forget…"
The man stopped walking and listened.
"Have you ever heard of Sekirei?"
XXX A Devil's Wings XXX
The world sat still around him.
The only sound was the rhythmic note of his breath as he kept himself relaxed in his sanctum, his eyes closed as he faced the Terminal that he had kept after the world had been restored.
It was certainly a shame that the stillness only permeated his office as he simply sat back and enjoyed the silence.
It was just such a shame that the world of Shijima had failed to manifest and he was once again thrust into the inefficient, anarchic world that pre-dated the Conception he had caused.
In the stillness of his room, the sound of the door pushing against the air was as clear as a thunderbolt and he found himself focusing on the talisman hanging around his left wrist.
Baphomet may have been weak, but it was still an existence beyond the laws of physics and more than capable of destroying anyone that didn't have a demon to protect them.
"Who disturbs my stillness," he demanded as he opened his eyes even if he kept his body facing away from the intruder.
"I-I'm sorry Hikawa-sama," the voice cut in clearly nervous of the potential punishment he could face for this disturbance, "b-but the director of Mid Bio Informatics is here looking for you."
That was unusual.
He had nothing to do with that company and no reason to speak to the man.
"Tell him to leave," he commanded without a second thought.
"H-he said that if you said that," the boy continued and he found himself about to unleash an unholy death upon the boy before he froze, "to call you the 'Chosen of Ahriman'."
His mind raced as he considered the possibilities, to know about that was impossible for a normal person, even now, he was sure that the only people who even knew that were himself and Kashima Naoki… and the less said about that the better.
He had only had the misfortune to encounter Kashima once since his attempt at the conception had failed.
To see his Baphomet annihilated in a single attack had been a genuinely terrifying experience for him.
But the boy had decided to let him live.
For what purpose, he didn't know, but he was still alive.
Regardless, for this man to know about that meant that he either had a direct connection to a demon that knew that information, or Kashima.
Either option was worth letting the man in for.
"Bring him in," he decided to command, it wasn't often he let others into his sanctum, but this was an exceptional circumstance.
"Understood Hikawa-sama," and with that the boy had gone to do as instructed.
The silence returned before the white haired man was ushered into the door.
"Quite the drab office you have here Hikawa-san," those were the first words to leave the bespectacled man's lips.
"Why are you here?" he asked, small talk was not something he entertained.
"So quick to get to the point," the man sounded almost pitying but he dismissed that tone from the C.E.O and narrowed his eyes, "fine, fine… I have recently come across information that I'm sure you'll be interested in."
He kept his silence and waited for the other man to continue with his pitch.
The frown that appeared on the white haired idiot's face made it clear he wasn't all that happy with his lack of reaction.
"I have recently come to learn that a competition I was running has been hijacked for another purpose," the man said before letting out a grin, "what was once nothing more than a battle royal for control of an alien spaceship has now become a battle to decide the fate of the universe."
Hikawa found himself unimpressed.
A battle for the fate of the universe wasn't as unusual a scenario as the man seemed to think it was.
If it was so unusual, then the Kuzunoha would've been driven out of business a long time ago.
"Indeed… the tournament I set up has been repurposed to bypass the Conception," at those words, Hikawa found his interest piqued.
"What is the catch?" he chose to ask, he needed to know why the man was coming to him directly and more importantly, how to involve himself in this 'tournament' the man had mentioned.
"The catch is that someone has started to spread a demon summoning application to citizens phones," the man continued, "and that in order to participate, you must possess a trait we call the 'Ashikabi gene'… if you have that, then you should be capable of entering by kissing one of these individuals."
With that, the white haired man brought out a folder containing a series of profiles.
Idly he acknowledge that all the women were attractive, but quickly dismissed that trait.
What was important was the information he was being granted concerning their abilities.
"Of course, if you don't have the Ashikabi gene, then there is nothing you can do… kissing one of them will grant no results and you will just have to sit back and watch as someone else is granted the ability to decide the fate of the next universe," Minaka spoke up and he found himself frowning in response.
That meant that his ability to enter was based on something he had no control of.
"So tell me Hikawa-san… will you attempt to enter this tournament?" the other man asked and he found himself coming to a decision.
"Leave me to my silence."
The frown he received made it clear that the director of the worlds biggest conglomerate wasn't happy with that command.
"I suppose I'll just have to wait and see won't I?"
And with that, the man in the white business suit rose from his seat, "enjoy the rest of your day Hikawa-san… I'll see myself out."
The man did just as he said and Hikawa once again found himself surrounded by silence.
For now however, he had a Sekirei to locate.
From what information he had been given, it seemed like Number zero three, zero six or zero nine were the most powerful.
And given how zero three was last recorded as having left the city on a journey and zero six was recorded as being so unstable it was unclear if he could even be bonded at all.
It seemed his best choice was Number Zero Nine.
The one named 'Tsukiumi'.
And that's all for today.
I hope to get back to regular updates but I can't guarantee anything.