A/N: Hey guys, sorry for the long delay and also the short chapter. The reason being: this chapter was not planned. I was originally going to jump straight to the next chapter, and have most of this chapter simply referred to offhandedly. Buuut... the poem that inspired the first scene came to mind, and I started writing. Then I had to edit it (Could still use a Beta, hint hint), then I went to check on continuity, and then... and then... and then... y'all know how it goes.

I kept it short because the tone of this chapter, despite how it opens, doesn't flow into the next, so I'm electing to keep them separate.

As always, constructive criticism is always welcome, and I'm still not the owner of recognizable characters or content.


April 23, 2020

The Crucible


"Alright minions, munchkins, monkeys and miscreants, listen up!" Harry paced back and forth in front of the gathered troops. Pausing, he turned and faced them. "'General Patton [once] said that wars are fought with weapons, but won by men.'" He shrugged. "Perhaps in his day that was true. Today, it is not." Keenly, the Major appraised each of those gathered. "Time has proven that women are just as, if not moreso, formidable as men. You lot are the evidence." Several gathered felt their backs straightened in pride as their rhetorician continued his pacing.

"You are on the breech of the greatest offensive of your young lives. The enemy is out there," he pointed behind him with a folded sensu, "waiting for you. They are ruthless. They are vicious. And they will not stop until they have-"

"Why is stuff falling out of that pillow case?" He spun, slowly, and stepped towards the inquisitor. Stopping in front of the most diminutive present, he bent over, arms akimbo, and stared her down. She stood there, arm extended towards her target, and looked up at him with the most innocent expression only one with the appearance of an 8-year-old could successfully pull off.

The encounter lasted nary a moment before a giggle resounded. Then another. It wasn't long before even the stern orator was fighting his own face from breaking out, evidenced by the corners of his lips twitching. A snort from nearby led to a cacophony of laughter.

"Well, pardon me missy that it's not perfect on such short notice." She just giggled into her balled-up fists in response. Because he's a mature adult, Harry stuck his tongue out at her, which led to another burst of giggles from all present.

That is, all but one.

"Oh get on with it already" a voice snapped impatiently. The laughter desisted almost instantly. All turned, with less surprise than would normally be expected, towards the guilty party. "Thy aren't a general most grandiose. Thy art a man who thinks himself beyond his station! We aren't some-"


"Precisely! We are Sekirei! Not an evolution of hominoids! This is-"

"Quiet, monkey." It wasn't said overly loud. Nor even aggressively. It was so matter-of-fact that most present nonconsciously felt their backs straighten up as the atmosphere changed. Even the aggressor felt her hackles up, but was unwilling to relent to some ape! "Now, where was-"

"I AM NOT A MONKEY!" The blonde was boiling at this point, her face flushed red, as she was near-screaming at him. "In what state of mind must thou be to presume knowledge of instructing a Sekirei?"

"Who are you to presume you know anything about moi?"

"I am a Sekirei!"

"As if that's supposed to mean anything, Monkey?" She bristled, but he didn't relent. "I see a truculent, entitled, self-righteous and self-absorbed heteroclite with the intelligence of a monkey in a zoo throwing poo." Someone giggled nearby at the brief rhyme, but neither acknowledged it, too absorbed in their staredown.

For those watching, it was a tense trice before she decided on a different approach. "Landlady-dono! Why aren't thou the proprietor of today's training session?" Before the fearsome woman could respond or react in any manner, a low growl emitted from the man in front of her that had her head swivelling back to face him in surprise. Followed by, if she was being honest with herself, a bit of apprehension, as his eyes took on a predatory gleam.

"Thank you, Tsukiumi, for bringing us around to an excellent first lesson. You'll make a fine example. I'll apologize to Sahashi for hurting his Sekirei later." To the bystanders of the stand-off, it appeared that Tsukiumi had been about to rescind her comment. That is, until his last statement sank in and stoked her ire. Most would have said that was a poor choice of words, but the duo who shared a brief sideways glance weren't fooled.

With a beckon of his fingers, EJ turned and stepped into the open area in front of the gathered that had stuffed tatterdemalions scattered throughout. He stopped next to one, donned a thoughtful expression, then laid a hand on its shoulder as he turned towards his opponent who had strings of water wrapped around her hands in preparation.

When he spoke, though, his somber tone caught her off guard. "'We are the hollow men, we are the stuffed men, leaning together…'" The sudden sardonic smirk had her blinking. "'...Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!'" He threw the dummy at her, some of the straw flew out and clouded the air between them.

With an exclamation of outrage, Tsukiumi swatted the straw-filled projectile aside, only to widen her eyes in surprise as the man was charging her. She threw a hastily conjured stream of water at him, and was doubly surprised when he dodged it, before a punch to the gut landed her on her butt, her eyes bugging out at the force of the fist to her abdomen.

"'Our dried voices, when, We whisper together, Are quiet and meaningless…'" With a huff she scrambled to her feet and flourished her hands.

"Water Celebration!" A hose of water lanced towards the man. With a pivot, he avoided it, before appearing right in her face.

"'As wind in dry grass, Or rats' feet over broken glass, In our dry cellar'…" he patted her cheek, ducked the wild left, then smacked her rump as she spun from the force of her own punch. She kicked back at him, only to hit empty air. It doubled as a failed attacked when a hand shot out from behind her and smacked her rear again. In her rage, she landed her extended foot then kicked awkwardly in the direction of the newest attack. As such, it was all too easy for the man to kick her plant-foot, landing her ungainly on her bum again.

"'Shape without form'," he bopped her head, and she swung from her seated position to empty air. "'Shade without colour'," he flicked her ear, a thread of water dashed into nothingness. "'Paralysed force'," a hand reached out and poked her in the eyes.

"AAAHHHH!" she exclaimed, holding her eyes, before that insulting voice resounded in her ears again.

"'Gesture without motion'." Had she not been blinded - pun intended - by rage, she would've realized the voice was further away than usual. As it was, she began swinging wildly, lancing out streams of water in every direction, screaming profanities at him.

Those watching were of mixed feelings by the utter humiliation being imparted on the woman. But watching her swing madly at empty air as her target stood nearly a dozen meters away was pretty funny.

After volleys of failed attacks, and lack of being counterattacked, the Water Sekirei caught her breath and blinked a few times to restore her sight. The head of the Black family gave her this brief respite, not wanting to break the woman's spirit: just her arrogance. Instead, he strolled back towards her. Her head snapped towards him, anger in her eyes, which increased to near madness as she observed the fact he wasn't even breathing hard. With a banshee-esque scream of rage, she charged him, coating her hands in water as she did.

What ensued was as a scene from a movie. For every attack she landed on him, he slapped her half a dozen times in return: on her face, on her butt, her legs, her back, her neck, her head. Every time he connected with her was an open-palm slap. Sometimes just the fingertips, as her movements became more erratic. To the untrained eye it appeared she was beginning to adapt, but in truth, as Matsu and Uzume shared a brief giggle, it was more akin to a beginner button-smashing in a video game with the hope of doing something right.

"DEATH IS TOO GOOD FOR THEE, THOU FUCKING MONKEY!" The exclamation surprised all who'd heard her speak, which was practically everyone gathered, as none had ever expected her to use vulgar language. Such a statement brought Harry to the realization that perhaps this 'example' had gone on long enough, and it was time to end it.

A right jab aimed at his face was caught by his left hand and, instead of slapping her as he had been, he yanked her arm forward by the grasped fist, and delivered a powerful right elbow to her jaw. This was immediately followed up by driving their still-clasped fists into her face then, without releasing the fist, yanked her forward again and drove his left knee into her gut. One would think this was enough but no. Having let go of her hand, his right swung around, caught her by the throat, arched her over his shoulder, then slammed her into the ground.

Those watching might've thought it was a brutal end to a simple demonstration, but a few amongst those gathered would be lying if said brutality didn't stir… other… feelings as well. But those few were distracted from said thoughts by his voice resonating in their ears.

"'Those who have crossed, With direct eyes, to death's other Kingdom'..." he released her throat, and caressed her tear-ridden cheek, drawing the back of his hand through her tears as she sobbed lightly. Minato darted towards her, sliding to a stop at her side. He drew her into his chest, and she stiffened at the contact, before looking towards her subjugator as he spoke again, his voice heavy and subdued.

"'Remember us -if at all- not as lost Violent souls, but only'..." he took a deep breath, and looked down at her with eyes ladened with emotions the indomitable woman would not have expected of him,

"'As the hollow men, The stuffed men.'"

Ku, Shi and Musubi raced towards their Ashikabi and Sekirei sister and gathered around them, anguish and concern in their eyes. Though, Musu-Yume took a moment to flash Harry a sad smile before a confused, blinking Musubi turned towards the group on the ground, extending her concerns.

Two pairs of hands wrapping around him drew his attention to the blonde and redhead, and he kissed each of their foreheads in reassurance before they made their way inside together to give the other group some time to recuperate before they resumed. Kagari and Uzume followed, the latter pushing the wheelchair her Ashikabi was seated in.

Only the remaining pair of brown eyes noticed the lone figure perched on a nearby rooftop. 'It would appear, Potter-san, you have an admirer.' Then found herself smirking slightly to herself when the figure suddenly took off upon realizing they'd been spotted. 'Yet another interesting development. Oh Takehito, if only you were here to guide us through these troubled times.'

With a last glance at the gathered group, she returned to her home.

Shortly After

Higa's Office


While all present were expecting it, few were truly prepared for the large, ornate desk to be heaved across the office. Even fewer for the resounding *CRASH* that resulted as it flew into the wall, leaving a massive crater in the - surprisingly - reinforced wall.

"TWO WEEKS! TWO WHOLE WEEKS! That French bitch has been sighted no less than a dozen times, and not ONE of you have been successful in apprehending her!" The chair followed his desk, leaving a less impressive mark against the wall. When they'd be told of this later, Toyotama and Ichiya would both be extremely grateful they were not present. Though, they would feel bad for the young Sekirei that ended up taking their place as his whipping post.


None present were about to argue with him, even in defense of themselves. Yes, they had had multiple chances collectively, but most of the time they'd been in heavily populated areas, such as the malls. Areas where they had few easy escapes were they successful. Others had more opportunity, one would think, but she'd disappear before they were able to get too close. As if she'd just vanished into thin air. The first one to have reported this was painfully punished, so none had reported any recurrences for fear of their own health.

That is, none, but the one who suddenly cracked up laughing.

All eyes slowly turned to the figure leaning against a wall, arms crossed, one foot on the ground, the other supporting her leaning posture. Her black hair was dangling over her face as her body physically shook from laughing so hard.

"Ohhh Higa, you certainly know how to keep such boring meetings interesting. I have to say, that has to be the best temper tantrum I've ever seen. Throwing a desk? Whoo! That's a new one on me." The figure cracked up some more, dragging a finger across her eyes as if wiping tears. "Man, if I can see more of that, I should start coming to these more often. That was hilarious!"

"Tsubaki" he snarled, fists balled up. "I find myself unamused by your failures as well. Give me a good reason why I shouldn't punish you here and now?"

The laughter died immediately. Those who recognized killer intent took a step back, not wanting her gaze to land on them.

"And here I didn't think you had a death wish." Her arm shifted into a scythe. "But please, humor me. I'd love to stick this through your heart." The two stared at each other for several moments before Higa turned away.

"Fortunately for you, we have important matters to discuss." The Dark Star snorted, but nevertheless, reformed her arm before crossing them once more.

"I'm listening." Higa, facing away from her, smirked. 'So quick to threaten me, but so eager to take my money. We both know you answer to none but me. It's only a matter of time before you submit.'

"Despite your insolence, you too have failed in your task, Tsubaki."

She snorted again. "Oh, please. Do elaborate."

He slowly turned to her. "I have yet to see any proof of your success. Furthermore, neither Delecour nor Black are present. Neither have been brought before me. Nor have you provided any information that would lead to their captures."

"I'm waiting on how that's my problem."

The man had to fight back a snarl, and the urge to wring her neck. "Your assignment-"

"-Is to confront EJ Black and bring him here. Yeah, I got that. Your point?"

"The obvious point is: he isn't here."

"Wow, figured that out by yourself did you? I'm impressed. All those pretty grades bought for you at school got you a remarkably astute observation. Congrats." Several murmurs resounded at the blatant disrespect. One, however, took it a step further, and moved towards her.

"Listen here y-" but the man never finished. In the time it took to say those two words, her arm had shifted to a scythe and lodged its point deep into and through his chest cavity and out his back. The room froze. Most in various states of surprise as they processed what they had just witnessed, let alone the speed it occured. They were in such a state of consternation that the shrill scream from nearby had most of them jolting. The room at large watched as the man's Sekirei collapsed and started convulsing in a measure resembling a seizure. The woman looked over indifferently, saw the convulsing girl, and her ennui turned to derision. "Pathetic." With a shake of her head, she wrenched her blade from his chest, and with a gentle prod of the tip, watched apathetically as his body toppled backwards and landed with a *thud*. Simultaneously, the Sekirei went still. No rise and fall of her chest. No eye movement. Nothing.

The murderess glanced down at her blood-soaked arm and sneered, then moved to the female's unmoving body. She crouched down and methodically wiped the blood of the former Ashikabi on the girl's shirt. It was several restive moments, many of the gathered exchanging anxious looks, before she was satisfied. Without so much as a glance to anyone, she then turned and moved back to her spot on the wall, leaving the deactivated Sekirei's front soaked in her own Ashikabi's blood.

Most of the gathered just gaped at the event that transpired before their very eyes. Number thirteen's temerity proved well-founded, as none so much as moved in response to her actions. The other Sekireis had mixtures of emotions: some were fearful of the woman turning on them, some were fearful of her turning on their Ashikabi, but a select number were hopeful. All were silent, however, and waited for what happened next.

"What do you want, Higa?" Tsubaki addressed the bishonen waspishly.

Said man was of two minds regarding what he'd just witnessed. There was a reason, several in fact, for why he kept the woman on his payroll. One of which being what just transpired: she can kill Ashikabis. And wasn't just able, but willing to. A conflicting reason being: she killed one that worked for him. Useless, his minions may be, but they were still his. Thus, any killing of them should be under his orders, something he would not have condoned whilst the man still had a Sekirei.

However, through Kochō he was well aware that 13 was special for more than a few reasons. One of which being that she couldn't be forcefully Winged. Something about the combination of experiments effected on her resulted in her being able to reject Ashikabis. Albeit this is still wildly conjecture, the fact that three separate attempts to Wing her failed, despite the arguable cleverness of the attempts, supported that argument. Those greedy scientists' and guard's lives ended in very bloody and painful deaths, and Number Thirteen remained unwinged upon her departure from MBI, but gained a massive aversion for all Ashikabis.

Higa, however, fancied himself the exception. If she truly abhorred Ashikabis, why would she spend so much of her time around him? He chuckled to himself, having to give thanks to Minaka in making it so the more Sekirei he collected, the more that flocked to him. The bishonen had little doubt this played a large part in Number 13's habitual return, whether she admitted it or not. The money was secondary in his mind.

For now, he'd deal with the woman's failure. "What I want," he began, enunciating every word clearly so there would be no misunderstanding, "is EJ Black in here, at my feet, begging me not to rip his little girlfriend's head off. I expect you to bring either him or her to me, alive." She arched an eyebrow at the last, to which he smirked. "How can I gain control of his Sekirei if he's dead? No. Best to have him learn his place first. Then, once this Game is over, I shall acquire his company and put him out of his misery. Besides, having a doctor of his caliber at our disposal will make him a most valuable tool to have."

"I refuse."

Higa was momentarily confounded by the statement before recomposing himself. "Pardon me, but I didn't hear that correctly."

"You heard me quite clearly, Higa. So there's no need to repeat myself. But, I'm feeling benevolent, so I'll elaborate; I won't touch Delacour-san."

A murmur went through the crowd about the woman's claim, the bodies on the floor stating otherwise. What they didn't know, information that Higa was all too aware of, was that the woman before him very much preferred to play with her kills before ending them. It was a tossup who was more sadistic: her or the Black Sekirei. The quick and clean kill of the man was a sign of benevolence from the murderous woman. That being said, her declining to a target was a first for her. Never mind how calmly she was doing so. "And why is that, might I ask?"

"She's not an Ashikabi," was the response, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.

"How certain of this are you?"

She harrumphed. "I wouldn't have said it if I wasn't."

Higa raised an eyebrow slightly. "And how did you come by this information?"

Tsubaki smirked at him and leaned back against the wall again and inspected her nails. "I have my sources."

"And they are?"

"None of your concern."

To the observant eye, it was clear that Higa was annoyed by the lack of forthcoming information. To the casual observer, meaning most gathered in the room, it appeared he was completely unphased by it. Then again, they'd seen this particular byplay before, so it wasn't anything new to them.

It was a tense moment before he appeared to relent. "Very well. Delacour isn't an Ashikabi. That will make it all the easier to acquire her then, won't it?"

"I'm not touching her, Higa. She's not a Sekirei. She's not an Ashikabi. She's of no concern to me."

"You will if you expect your remunerations, Number 13."

"Money's money, there's plenty of it elsewhere."

"I can also inform MBI where you've been hiding." That got her attention, as she slowly looked up at him with emotionless eyes. "Good. I have your attention now." He turned and faced out the window, hands in his pockets. Such arrogance had the woman's eyes narrowing, let alone the explicit threat, and her arm shifted into a blade. Uncaring of the attention the action drew, she uprighted herself, ignoring the numerous Sekirei reaching for their own weapons.

"The volume of failures in recent weeks is unacceptable," he began, unaware of the movements behind him as subtle shifts in stances occurred. "More specifically, your failure is unacceptable." One steps forward, several step back, many grips tighten. "Upon the inauguration of our consociation, you promised efficient and expeditious results. As of late, your deficiency has been most detrimental to my plans." A second hand shifts, another step, weapons are drawn, uneasy yet determined looks are exchanged.

"This latest dereliction of our agreement has brought me to the conclusion that our concordance requires amendation."

She was within striking distance now. He was at a disadvantage: the only Sekirei he owned that had the ability or speed to intercept her now were on patrol. Only Kochō was near enough, but the bloodthirsty woman knew Number 22 wouldn't interfere. Her heart, cold as it was, was picking up speed, anticipating the kill she'd been eager to complete for some time now. She'd wondered when this slimy bastard would pull this stunt. Had she not succumbed to her rage she might've wondered as to why he'd do it now. As it was, none, including she, noticed the odd ripple in the air near where the desk formally sat.

Being so close to the edge, she decided to prime her already adrenaline-filled blood by getting the answer she knew was coming. "And what amendment would that be?"

That smirk. How it infuriated her. Not even bothering to turn around to address her. She, who, in a moment's notice, could easily clear the distance and run both arms through his head and heart simultaneously without him even moving a muscle. And he has the audacity to smirk with his back to her. More fuel, as her blood inflamed at the word she expected to hear, and wasn't disappointed.


As with the kill a mere few minutes prior, it was over in a moment's notice. Tsubaki was moving before he'd finished the last syllable, her legs launching her as a springboard toward her target. Peripherally, she noticed several Sekirei reacting, and her previous estimations proved correct: they were too slow, or too far. Like a harpoon, she lanced through the air. The distance was short, and nothing but air between them. She wanted his blood. She needed it, demanded it.

And she would have it.

Secret Room

Izumo's Inn


EJ moved into the room Matsu holed up in, curious as to why his redheaded Sekirei was so frantic when she called for him. Considering she'd been outside with them for the currently-delayed training with one of her touchpads, he couldn't but wonder what had managed to happen in the time it'd taken her to make it to her room. Gabby and Miya were right behind him, as was Kagari, who hadn't yet changed from his Homura persona; as the only ones not in the know were still outside, it wasn't necessary. All three each had various looks of curiosity and concern.

"Ok Matsu, we're here, what's got you bothered?"

Her fingers flew across her keyboard as information popped up on a number of screens.

"Senpai! We have a problem. It's Number 13. Something's happened to her."

"Was she winged?"

"No! Yes! I don't know!" She grabbed her hair and tugged at it in a groan of frustration. "MBI's data is inconclusive."

The four visitors each had various levels of confusion.

"Could you elaborate on that?" A few key-taps and she brought up MBI's file to the central screen. Kagari moved forward, eyes squinting, before tapping on a particular line.

"Why is the 'Status' uhh… whatever, why is this line blinking?"

She blew up the area, and another alongside it. "Probably for the same reason her Ashikabi marker is blinking. I don't know what these mean. As you all..." she began, before glancing at Gabby. "I mean, as these three know, these lines are usually solid. When they're Unwinged, their 'Status' is listed as 'Active'. When they're Winged, it says so. Same with Deactivated."

With a motion of her hand, she indicated the screen. "I've never seen it cycle between the three like this. It's as if they're somehow all three, which… I don't know how that could even be possible."

They remained in silence, contemplating the possibilities before Kagari spoke up in barely constrained fury. Though, his eyes were heavy with empathy. "What adjustments was she subjected to?"

With a sad, sympathetic smile, Matsu tapped a couple keys and brought up the file on the next screen. "All of them, Kagari." They all watched as the extensive file scrolled through several screens. "She's proof that Sekirei could be modified to such an extent as to nearly change our entire makeup in vitro. She's been modified to the extent I couldn't even tell you what her original abilities may have been."

It was a strange feeling for Kagari. He'd long felt he'd gotten the short end of the stick when it came to adjustments. Now, he was looking at someone who'd gotten the even shorter end, and didn't know how to respond. He felt bad for the girl, being the ultimate guinea pig, yet he was equally envious as it appeared her adjustments still gave her control of her own body. A few more key-taps brought him out of his reverie, and Matsu brought up a synopsis from one of Tsubaki's 'adjustors'.

"This is the part that's most relevant at the moment. It's been hypothesized that unlike most of us, she's not driven by the bond we share. As you can see here," she elaborated while highlighting a certain segment, "MBI believes she is capable of actually rejecting Ashikabis. Further proof being the number of people who tried Winging her while she was still at MBI. She slaughtered them, taking care to remove their jaws, lips and tongues. Basically anything that produces or carries saliva.

"Her Status never changed from 'Active'. Not even a flicker. That's what makes the current situation so odd. And concerning."

"Who is she supposed Winged to, Matsu?"

After a tap, the other three stepped forward, all leaning in despite the information being enlarged. All were in similar states of confusion at first, as it was empty. That is, until 'Status' blinked to Active, and a name appeared next to 'Ashikabi'. The two magicals suddenly uprighted when they read it, exact opposites of bundles of joy.

"Putain d'enfer, what is she doing here?"

The three natives turned and looked at the duo with interest. "Black-sama… you know this person?" Matsu asked tentatively. He nodded with eyes closed, taking deep breaths as he pinched his nose.

Gabby was much less reserved, swearing up a storm in French that had Kagari looking at her concerned.

"Who is it, Gabby-sama?"

While she just shook her head and deferred to him, Kagari's question had Potter turning to take one more look at the blinking name when it came around again. He never believed in coincidences, so the fact this specific person was here in Tokyo - or Shintō Teito as MBI was calling it - now of all times, couldn't be anything good. And worse, they'd managed to find themselves in the company of Number 13, who has killed a number of Ashikabi already, and is highly suspected in several more. There was no doubt who they'd be gunning for.

For now, though, it would be imperative to train the Sekirei. Though he knew Miya wouldn't want the Inn placed under the Fidelius Charm, as it would negate the Inn's purpose as a refuge, he'd offer it anyways. He and Gabrielle had discussed doing so with their home, and the Crucible. Knowing who was in town, the stakes were now clear, and the glance they shared confirmed her thoughts mirrored his own.

He turned to leave. "We best get back outside. With her in town, and whatever that," he indicated the blinking data, "means, we best be prepared for it. We can update Sahashi and his Sekirei about the situation later."

"Harry-san…" Miya's concerned acknowledgement stopped him, and he turned to face her. "Who is it?"

He sighed, and decided on simplicity.


Higa's Office


Tsubaki knew without a shadow of a doubt she'd enjoy watching the light leave Higa's eyes. She knew emphatically how much she'd enjoy being the cause of it. And beyond both of those, she was adamant, resolute, intransigent if you will, that nothing would stop her from killing him when he gave her a reason to.

Which is why she couldn't understand why she hadn't yet. She'd launched at him, her arms formed into blades sharp enough to cut through concrete. Her aim was true, her desire was true… so why was she stuck mid-air mere centimeters from running the bastard through? And to add to the confusion, she couldn't move anything. She couldn't speak either. She just hung there, outstretched, and watched as the man slowly turned around to face her.

"Fascinating," he remarked, allowing himself a slight smile. He walked around her immobile and airborne form, finishing where he began next to the window. "It's one thing to have been given a demonstration. It's quite another to visualize it in action. Truly, this magic is most useful."

None there, not even Kakizaki or Kochō, understood what he was talking about. Though, all were quite fascinated with how he managed to ensnare the most dangerous Sekirei any of them had the misfortune of encountering.

"And if it were to be undone, she'd have lost all momentum?" The fact it was a question confused the gathered even more. But that quickly gave way to apprehension when a feminine voice answered from seemingly nowhere.

"That is correct, Higa-san." The air shimmered, and a striking young brunette woman appeared before them, a stick in her hand. "With a simple flick of my wrist…" she let it hang as she demonstrated, spinning Tsubaki mid-air, still outstretched. "She's completely at my mercy."

The woman had thought her husband had a nasty sneer, but the one this woman, this Sekirei, was giving her could easily have rivaled it, if not surpassed it. Then again, her husband had worn it out of habit; two decades of conditioning was not easily broken. Were she feeling more empathetic, she'd have agreed that this ebony had good reason for it.

But she wasn't feeling empathetic. This Sekirei was to be a tool for her vengeance. From what Higa had shared with her, this woman hated people like Potter. She only needed to make sure it stayed that way. And if hurting Potter meant taking out his little girlfriend also? Well, no one said life was fair.

"That demonstrates how you can control her physical actions, Malfoy-san. But, how do you intend to ensure she follows orders?"

Astoria Malfoy née Greengrass, widow of the late Draco Malfoy, turned a predatory smile towards him as she raised her wand towards the hanging woman. "Like this.



A/N: For those of you who didn't recognize the poem being quoted, it is "The Hollow Men" by T.S. Eliot.