Destiny Awaits

A Mai HiME Destiny Fan Fiction

Timeline: Note that I'll be breaking away from the Destiny-verse's timeline more and more.

Notes: Not particularly happy with how this chapter turned out but at least it's actually finished, yes? This chapter consists of only one scene but it is the turning point in the story, so it's an important one.


The thick swell of foliage had given way to a dull grey concrete and Natsuki could only stare in confusion as she wondered where the hell a building had come from. It looked completely out of place, even with the plants attempting to reclaim the aging walls, thick vines snaking their way up to the flat roof. The overgrown greenery almost completely obscured a stone path that seemed to lead back towards the single road that meandered down the mountain. How long had this building been here? How long had it been abandoned?

From the way Nao edged through the trees Natsuki couldn't be sure it was deserted, however. As she moved forwards, she surveyed the old structure, noting that it wasn't tall enough to contain more than one floor. She suspected that was probably so it would be more difficult to spot. There seemed to be no windows either, which she found quite strange. It resembled a bunker more than a lab.

Nao paused and peered over her shoulder at her companion as she reached the wall facing them. "Doesn't look like much, eh?"

Even though Nao spoke in a whisper, the sound seemed unbearably loud to Natsuki. She quickly moved closer to the other girl. "Are you sure about this?"

"Of course," Nao insisted before turning her attention towards the building once more. "Now help me find the door."

Natsuki regarded the redhead with a bemused expression. "How hard can it be to find a door?"

When she received no reply, Natsuki walked around the edge of the concrete structure. She soon found herself back where she had started and there had been no door in sight. Weird...She began moving around the perimeter once more. When she rounded the first corner she found Nao standing there waiting.

"You walked right past it," she remarked with a nod towards the wall. She'd pulled aside various plant growths that had crept up the wall over the years. They'd managed to conceal the door quite nicely.

Natsuki ignored the smug grin on Nao's face and stepped towards the exposed door. She frowned when she spotted the locking mechanism on it. It looked rusty but still solid. Just beside it was a keypad with a slot, which she guessed would facilitate a key card or something similar. She placed a hand against the metal door, noting there was no obvious handle. She gave it a solid push but there was no movement at all.

"Just great," she muttered irritably. They'd trekked all this way only to be foiled by a rusty old door.

Nao leaned in, as if inspecting the lock more closely would force it to open. "Think we could force it?"

Giving her companion a withering glance, Natsuki grunted indignantly. "No chance." She kicked out at the door with one foot, the clang of her sneaker hitting the steel echoing obnoxiously in the air around them. She cringed at the noise.

"Clever, Kuga." Nao rolled her eyes.

"I think I can help you ladies," came a voice from directly behind them, causing both of them to flinch and whirl around. Standing there was Midori, a hand on her hip and the other one deliberately displaying a key card.

"You're late," Nao said as she visibly relaxed.

Natsuki watched in silence as Midori strode over to the door and tinkered with the keypad and card. She and Nao muttered to one another quietly, obviously quite familiar with each other's company. Midori tapped away at the keypad several times before cursing and repeating the action. What'sgoingonhere?Was no one who they appeared to be at this school, Natsuki wondered.

A low beep signalled Midori's triumph at entering the correct code and the door popped open, the slab of metal swinging inwards with a slight creak. "Ha!" Midori beamed as she pushed the door open further. "Come on, let's see what awaits us."

As she stepped inside, Natsuki laid a hand on Nao's upper arm, stopping her mid-stride. "What's going on?"

The redhead glanced down at Natsuki's hand and then towards Midori. "She's the one who told me about this place. She's trying to help us."

Uncertainty caused her to hesitate and Natsuki wasn't sure if she could trust Midori. How could she possibly know about the lab? About her mother? Heck, I'm fairly certain I can't trust Nao either. Despite her concerns, there was the promise of answers from within this stone tomb. If there was a chance she could learn more about her mother, shouldn't she take it?

"Come on," Nao hissed quietly before slipping into the building.

Swallowing her doubts, Natsuki pushed onwards, stepping into the darkness beyond that old rusty door. After a few steps, she had to pause and let her eyes adjust to the gloominess. Darkness stretched across every inch of the interior and the air was thick with dust and the scent of mould. She brought a hand up to cover her mouth to suppress the urge to cough.

After several moments a small beam of light flickered into view in front of her. As it slid back and forth across the floor and walls, she realised Midori had brought a torch with her. At least someone's prepared, Natsuki thought. From the narrow field of vision she had now gained, Natsuki could tell that they were standing in a tiled corridor. She couldn't tell what colour anything was but that wasn't important anyway. She moved closer to her two companions, the sound of her footfalls reverberating down the narrow passage.

"How long has this place been deserted?" Nastuki whispered.

Midori turned to look at her, inadvertently blinding the dark haired girl for a moment when she shone the flashlight in her direction. "Oops, sorry," she said quickly before answering her question. "According to records it's been abandoned for ten years but that's just the official line."

"Yeah, I ain't going to believe a word those records say," Nao cut in.

Natsuki looked down at the floor beneath them, the thick layer of grime only interrupted by their footprints. "I don't know, this place looks the part."

Offering a shrug as her only response to that, Midori glanced around herself. "Let's see if we can find a records office or something." With that she turned and walked carefully down the corridor and away from Natsuki.

Not wanting to lose the light, Natsuki followed. She could only watch as Midori tried to open each door she came across. They were all locked. These doors were locked in a more conventional way – with a key – proving the key card useless now. The doors themselves seemed less sturdy than the entrance to the building, however, so it was possible they could be forced. It seemed she wouldn't have to resort to that just yet though as Nao came across an archway that led into another room.

Midori veered off in that direction as soon as she noticed the discovery and Natsuki had no choice but to do so as well. As the beam of light travelled over the surfaces of the room, she realised they were standing in a small office. A tall filing cabinet stood against one wall, with a single table sitting in the middle of the room. There was no chair in sight and there didn't appear to be any other furniture. Midori moved towards the filing cabinet immediately. Natsuki was fairly certain she wouldn't find anything worthwhile there. Who would be stupid enough to leave sensitive documents behind after abandoning a facility?

"Crap, nothing here!" Midori spat as she opened the drawers, confirming Natsuki's suspicions.

The raven haired girl leaned against the doorway and let out a sigh. She was beginning to wonder if she'd be dragged here under false pretences. Had her mother even worked here? Maybe Midori and Nao just wanted a little backup on their little adventure away from school. Still, she couldn't deny that they knew more than they should.

It was at that moment that Natsuki picked up on a noise from deeper within the building. She poked her head out of the office and peered down the length of the corridor. The action was fairly useless as she couldn't see a thing but she was able to make out a low humming noise. Was that machinery of some kind? It was so hard to tell as it was barely audible. She looked back over towards the other girls but, since they were busy with the cabinet still, she decided to act on her own. She preferred it that way, anyway – light or no.

She moved quietly out into the corridor and edged her way along the wall towards the far end of it. The unsettled dust tickled her nostrils, threatening to make her sneeze, but she resisted it. Her fingers trailed along the rough material of the wall, flakes of paint falling towards the flooring haphazardly as she tried to keep herself from knocking into anything. As she cautiously moved along, the slight humming from before grew gradually louder, telling her she was nearing the source. It still seemed fairly distant to her though. How big was the building anyway? It certainly didn't seem very large from the outside.

The edge of her sneaker met with the solid resistance of another wall and she realised that she must have reached the end of the hall. She reached out and fumbled blindly for a door or anything other than a wall. Her fingers brushed against something metallic and, as she gripped it, she felt the form of a door knob. Turning it slowly, she was satisfied when the door pulled open with a click.

As she shuffled closer to the doorway, she could make out a faint light coming from the bottom of what appeared to be a flight of stairs. Her brow furrowed as her mind went over the implications of that. This place isn't so abandoned after all. Are there people down there? The hairs at the back of her neck bristled as her pulse quickened. Any number of dangers could be waiting for her down there. She briefly considered going back and getting her companions but her clumsy stumbling may attract attention. I don't need their help anyway. They'd only go getting themselves hurt.

Moving with a bit more speed now, Natsuki crept down the steps, one at a time. The low light level in the stairwell allowed her to see where she was going. It also had the consequence of giving her position away should she come across anyone. As she reached the bottom of the stairs, she spotted another door with a glass window. The room beyond was the source of the light.

She pressed herself up to the wall beside the door and kept out of view as she tried to get a look inside the room. It appeared to have a fairly large open area with cupboards lining at least one wall. The humming was louder now but she could also pick something else up. A trickle of perspiration slid down her neck as she recognised it as the murmur of voices. There were people down here. The air suddenly felt much heavier, making each breath a little more difficult to suck in. She wasn't sure if it was the dust or the apprehension causing it.

Natsuki leaned over slightly to try and catch a glimpse of who was talking, since she couldn't even tell if it was a man or a woman doing so. A flash of brown caused her to snap back to the wall beside the door. Somebody had just passed in front of the door, wearing a dark brown suit. She swallowed the lump that had formed in her throat. The palms of her hands itched and she felt the need to summon her guns, to feel their reassuring weight in her grasp.

Deciding to give into her instincts, she concentrated for a moment and focused her energy into her palms. Both weapon materialised quickly and she let out a slow breath as she turned her attention back to the other room. What the hell are Nao and Midori doing? She was starting to regret coming on her own. For some reason, she had a feeling she was about to walk into trouble. Her gaze shifted down the door to the handle. It was a normal handle and not a knob so she wouldn't have to relinquish her hold on one of her guns. She reached out and slowly pushed down on the metal, hoping that it wouldn't make any sudden sounds.

The door slid open an inch and the speech from within the room suddenly rose in volume. She recognised the one speaking as male but she didn't recognise it instantly.

"—poorly. I want better results."

"Yes," came a female voice. It sounded fairly mature.

"And what about you? Are you going to give me an answer about that Kuga girl?" She froze as the male spoke her name. A chord of familiarity was struck within her. She knew this man. "Don't walk away when I'm talking—"

Principal Kanzaki.

She pushed herself off of the wall and spun around, bringing both of her weapons up to aim at the people within as she kicked open the door. Standing in the middle of the room with their backs to her were the Principal and a woman Natsuki recognised as the Chairwoman. What were they doing here? They noticed her presence immediately.

Both of them seemed shocked but the Principal's expression soon turned to one of amusement. That set her on edge. "Speak of the devil," he said smoothly.

"What's going on here?" she demanded, her aim never wavering.

"Kuga-san, lower your weapons at once," Fumi stated firmly, taking a step in Natsuki's direction.

"Stop right there. No one's moving until I get some damn answers!"

Kanzaki's expression hardened and he turned to fully face her. "Do you really think I'm going to be amenable with you threatening me like this?"

She pressed her lips together firmly. He was probably right but there was no way she was lowering her guard. "I don't think you'll be cooperative in any situation."

To her surprise, he let out a short laugh. "Do try to remember who the Principal here is and who the student is."

The clatter of footsteps behind her informed Natsuki that Nao and Midori were finally on their way. Midori came to a sudden stop behind her, huffing for breath. "Don't go rushing off like—"

"...the hell?" came Nao's surprised exclamation.

"The lack of discipline amongst the students is quite shocking. Out of school grounds, breaking and entering..." the Principal remarked in an off-handed manner. The ease at which he spoke was unsettling Natsuki. What was there to be so laid back about?

"Principal Kanzaki?" Midori spoke with some hesitance.

He regarded her with curiosity. "I don't know your face. What's your name?"

"Don't think me so stupid," she replied.

"Midori Sugiura," the Chairwoman interjected coolly, much to Midori's chagrin.

"Thank you," Kanzaki nodded at Fumi. "Now, tell me what has you so worked up that you have to come all the way out here with such hostility?"

Natsuki found his feigned ignorance unbelievable. How could he act like that with a straight face? Did he seriously think he would fool them? She stepped forwards into the room, her eyes darting between the Principal and Chairwoman, her weapons aimed at both of them. Kanzaki watched her with the predatory gaze of an experienced hunter.

"How about you tell us what you're doing here instead?" Natsuki countered his question.

The Principal looked over at Fumi and spoke to her, even though his words were aimed at the girls. "We really must start a class that addresses etiquette. It seems our students don't know how to respond to simple questions from their elders."

"Cut the crap!" Natsuki snapped. Kanzaki's face shifted from its charming expression to something much colder. Dread swelled in Natsuki's stomach and she tensed, unsure of what to expect next.

"That's enough." Each of his words was laced with ice. "You will submit yourself to the custody of the Chairwoman and return to the school grounds for disciplinary action."

"Like hell we will," Natsuki replied with a sneer.

"I've tolerated this insolence enough. We don't allow such behaviour to go unpunished here." The Principal's eyes narrowed as he spoke. "Fumi, take them back to the school."

The Chairwoman took two steps towards them, causing Natsuki to back into Nao. Midori moved past the other girls then, placing herself in front of them. "Whoa, whoa." She held up both hands in front of her. "There's no need for any of this."

"Oh, I think there is," Kanzaki replied sternly. "The fact that you're here in the first place is bad enough. This open defiance just compounds things."

Midori let out a nervous laugh. "You can't blame us for being curious about this place, right? Youthful thirst for knowledge and all that?"

Natsuki was beginning to get fed up with all the dancing around the real questions. They were never going to get answers this way. "What do you use this lab for?"

The Principal's attention went back to Natsuki. "Who says we use it for anything?" More avoidance. Natsuki sneered at him again.

Perhaps sensing her companion's rising anger, Midori interjected. "Why would you be here if you weren't using it for anything?"

"It's owned by the school," Fumi answered for the Principal.

"Not that we should have to explain ourselves to the students," Kanzaki added.

"I suppose you just come here to chat about me then?" Natsuki asked snidely.

"You might have come up in passing conversation. I don't think it's unreasonable for the staff to discuss their students. Do you?" the Principal replied.

"That's—" she started but was cut off quickly by the Principal.

"Fumi."

The Chairwoman moved towards them again, her gaze focusing on Midori as she was still in front of Nao and Natsuki. Midori visibly tensed and clenched her fists, readying herself for a confrontation. It didn't seem as though they were going to be able to avoid one now. Natsuki continued to aim her pistols at both the Principal and Fumi.

Before the Chairwoman could reach them, Midori raised a hand into the air. As she did so, a shimmer of blue light flashed in front of her, leaving a wall of energy blocking Fumi's path. Was this her MiKO power? Natsuki couldn't really guess at what it did but it seemed to give the advancing woman pause for thought. Fumi shot a hesitant glance towards the Principal and he seemed to pick up on whatever had gone through her mind.

"I think your presence is required, Fujino-san," Kanzaki uttered confidently, his gaze never leaving Natsuki.

The mention of the Student Council President's name sent a chill through Natsuki. Confusion as well as a growing sense of dread swelled within her as the Principal and she eyed each other. Then movement from behind him drew her attention and the muscles in her chest tightened.

Shizuru emerged from a darkened doorway, her sheathed katana grasped in one hand. She moved forwards with a confident stride and her ruddy eyes were cold and distant. If she noticed Natsuki standing there, she didn't show it. She lifted her sword to her hip, as Natsuki had seen her do at the waterfall, her thumb moving to the guard in preparation for unsheathing the blade.

"Shizuru..." The name had left Natsuki's lips before she could stop herself. She had always insisted that the Student Council were corrupt but, now that she was faced with the reality of it, she just couldn't bring herself to believe it. Was Shizuru really in on all of this? Would Natsuki be forced to fight her? What was really going on here?

In that moment, the Kaichou's gaze flickered to Natsuki before returning to its previous position. The situation was getting more complicated by the second and Natsuki wasn't sure if she should press on now that she seemed to be uncovering something or just turn on her heel and flee. The internal conflict left her stomach feeling unsettled but she knew that running would do nothing for her. She was committed to this. She had to see it through to the end.

"F-Fujino-sama? You're mixed up in this too?" Midori's voice shook slightly as she spoke.

"She's merely doing as she's told, just as you should," Kanzaki pointed out.

"I insist that you return to the school as you have been asked to," Shizuru murmured softly, as though the three girls had just been marched into the Student Council room for disciplinary action. It was surreal to hear her talking so calmly in that situation but the whole series of events was bizarre to Natsuki.

An uncomfortable silence stretched out between them all and eyes flitted from person to person as they each tried to assess one another. Natsuki noticed Midori swallowing awkwardly and the normally confident girl seemed to be afraid.

"I... guess we could," Midori said hesitantly, peering over her shoulder at her two companions for approval. Nao merely nodded quickly, obviously feeling their chances of success in a fight here were fairly low.

"Please do," Shizuru replied, lowering her sword arm to a relaxed position once more.

Nao didn't need telling twice. She turned and moved towards the door, placing a hand on Natsuki's forearm as she went. Natsuki resisted the tugging of the other girl. Indecision rooted her to the spot still. If she left now, she might never get any answers but there was the chance she wouldn't be able to leave if she didn't take the opportunity.

"Come on!" Nao hissed under her breath, hints of panic in her tone.

"Actually..." the Principal called out, causing everyone in the room to look his way. "I think it's too late for that."

"Sir?" Shizuru asked in surprise.

"What kind of message would we be sending if we allowed them to walk out of here?" he asked with a nauseatingly pleasant smile on his face. When no response came, he continued. "Besides, I think now is as good a time as any to get started."

The usually unaffected Fumi now showed signs of surprise as well. "Now?"

Kanzaki's eyebrow twitched slightly as he glanced at her. "Yes. Was I not clear?"

What was he talking about? Natsuki clenched her jaw. It was frustrating just how little she knew. Her eyes narrowed as she watched the Principal slip his hands into his trouser pockets, one corner of his mouth quirking upwards as he eyed the three girls in front of him.

"Shizuru, my dear, please take care of these delinquents." His tone would not seem out of place when asking a student to hand him a book or file. The hidden menace in his words sent a shiver down Natsuki's spine.

Uncharacteristically, Shizuru hesitated. Her brow furrowed a little as she looked at the Principal. "Sir, I—"

His expression shifted in an instant, anger flaring in his eyes as he snapped at her. "Do it!"

They stared at one another for several painfully long moments before Shizuru turned to face the three girls again. She shifted her weight and Natsuki knew she was going to launch an attack. Was she really going to follow the Principal's orders? Midori and Nao didn't look ready for an attack so Natsuki knew she had to be the one to react.

Just as Shizuru had done previously, she moved her weight onto the foot she slid forwards, signalling an imminent lunge. This wasn't a practice spar; Natsuki knew she had to make her next action count. Her forefinger flexed against the trigger of one of her pistols and she fired a shot of energy off in Shizuru's direction. It would, perhaps, prove to be a mistake but she hadn't aimed so she would hit anyone. She just wanted to throw Shizuru's attack off.

It had the desired effect as Shizuru hopped backwards, a look of shock on her face. The sudden sound of her gun firing seemed to launch her companions into action as well. She couldn't tell what was going through their minds then but they obviously found the need to fight back as well as they both took up offensive stances. Nao sent a blast of telekinetic energy across the room, forcing their opponents to scatter.

Natsuki watched as Kanzaki took refuge in the room Shizuru had emerged from. Coward, she thought as she scanned the room for the Kaichou's whereabouts. As it turned out, she hadn't moved far. She had opted to absorb most of the force of Nao's attack by raising her sheathed weapon in front of her. She didn't seem at all harmed, much to Nao's annoyance.

Fumi was hanging back, seemingly unfazed by what was going on around her. The woman's demeanour didn't sit well with Natsuki; she couldn't read her at all. That made her unpredictable and dangerous. The sound of Nao shouting a curse at Shizuru brought Natsuki's attention back to her and she could only watch as the redhead launched herself at the Kaichou.

Nao swung her arm wide, releasing a wide arc of energy as she moved and forcing Shizuru to dodge out of the way. The force of the attack ripped several cabinets off of one wall, sending splintered wood in all directions. The sound of smashing glass filled the air as bottled and beakers tumbled to the floor. Nao clearly wasn't use to using her abilities outside the barrier.

Before Natsuki could even register where everyone had moved to, she heard Nao grunt in pain and Natsuki turned to see her fall to her knees. Shizuru had moved in close and thrust the hilt of her katana, still in its scabbard, into the younger girl's stomach. As the redhead doubled over, Natsuki brought her pistols up to fire at Shizuru. The Student Council President had seemingly expected the attack though and she side-stepped the shots expertly. If she followed the same pattern as at the waterfall, Natsuki knew Shizuru would attack next.

Before she could compensate for that, however, Midori positioned herself in front of Natsuki. She raised a barrier up, as she had before, and readied herself for the inevitable attack. The interference irked Natsuki. She didn't like the thought that someone believed she needed help. Now was not the time for pride to get in the way, though. Possibilities raced through her mind as she tried to figure out the best way to gain an advantage over Shizuru. Fumi still hadn't made a move and that worried Natsuki.

As she had expected, Shizuru lurched forwards, a flash of steel arcing through the air with a faint whistle. The power of her strike completely obliterated the defence Midori had erected, the blue energy fizzling almost instantly. The after effect of the slash sent Midori stumbling backwards and she didn't have time to use her abilities before the Kaichou was upon her.

Shizuru swung the flat of her blade towards Midori, catching her firmly in the face. The redhead let out a yelp as she was thrown to the floor, a harsh red mark instantly colouring the skin of her cheek. Natsuki called out to her companion, moving to assist her but was blocked by Fumi. There was a menace in the woman's eyes that caused her to take a step backwards. Holding a hand out in front of her, a faint glow surrounded the Chairwoman.

Natsuki's eyes widened in shock as a weapon materialised in Fumi's hand. She was now standing, gripping a scythe, looking completely at ease. The shaft of the weapon was fairly thin, with a dark cloth wrapped around it. Its long, curved blade looked impossibly sharp and Natsuki was sure she could see it pulsing with a barely visible black energy. The Chairwoman didn't move to attack her though; she was merely blocking her path.

She wasn't about to take any chances though and raised her own weapons, determination fuelling her actions. Fumi reacted in an instant, her stance becoming aggressive as she hoisted the scythe into the air. Natsuki reacted quickly, aiming a shot for the woman's torso. The small, bullet of energy disintegrated against a wall of blue, however, and Natsuki inwardly cursed at the timing.

Midori had forced a barrier between the pair of them, probably in an attempt to protect Natsuki. She glanced in the redhead's direction and saw she hadn't acted to protect herself. She now lay unmoving on the floor, a small spattering of blood covering the tiles beside her. Shizuru stood over Midori, her blade slipping smoothly into its sheathe once more.

"Damn it. Midori..!" Natsuki called out to the other girl. How could Shizuru hurt her like that?

The redhead groaned and shifted slightly, much to Natsuki's relief. Anger prickled just under her skin now and she glared at Shizuru, all her frustration and ire focused in that one look. The Kaichou peered back at her, her own gaze unwavering, but there was an emptiness in her eyes. Natsuki was forced to direct her attention to Fumi as the woman moved away from the barrier and towards Midori.

"Well done, Fujino-san," she said simply. She then raised her scythe into the air, the tip of the blade gleaming under the artificial light.

The muscles in Natsuki's throat constricted as she watched the blade swing down towards the defenceless redhead. She threw herself forwards against the wall of energy blocking her way in a desperate attempt to help Midori but it was futile. She rebounded painfully off of the barrier. She watched helplessly as the scythe finished its arc. To her surprise it didn't come into contact with Midori at all.

As she wondered if Fumi had missed, Midori let out a whimper and curled up into a tight ball. The barrier in front of Natsuki blinked out of existence. It was then that the Principal emerged from his safe haven, a smug grin on his face. As Natsuki tried to take in what was going on, Shizuru staggered backwards and reached out her free hand to steady herself against the wall beside her. Her face had paled and moisture had collected on her forehead.

"She's your first, Fujino-san. Savour it," Kanzaki said as he studied Shizuru's face.

Natsuki took in the scene with a growing sense of horror, her gaze flitting between Midori, Fumi and Shizuru. "What... what did you do to her?"

"You'll find out soon enough," the Principal murmured.

Nao took that moment to stumble over to Natsuki, a painful sounding cough forcing its way past her lips. She laid a hand on Natsuki's upper arm to steady herself. "We have to... get out of here..." she said weakly.

She knew the other girl was right but how could they just leave Midori? After what she'd just seen though, she wasn't sure if she could fight Fumi and Shizuru off. She didn't even know what they'd done to Midori. Would she be okay? A tightening grip on her arm forced her to make a decision. She couldn't let herself be beaten here so retreat was the only option for now. The thought of it left a bad taste in her mouth but she had no other choice.

With the decision made, she turned and ran, pulling Nao along with her as she released her hold on her weapons. The pair of them ducked into the stairwell quickly and stumbled through the darkness of the upper level. As they moved, the only thing she could picture was Shizuru standing over Midori as Fumi swung that scythe towards her. How could things turn out like this? She knew something was going on at the school but she'd had no idea it was so bad. That thought stuck with her as they emerged into the open air.

I don't know a damn thing.

"Fuck," Nao panted. "Where the hell do we go now?"

Natsuki brought her hands up to rub at her arms, suddenly feeling chilled. "The only place we can go," she replied quietly. "Fuuka Academy."

"Are you crazy?"

Glancing at the other girl, Natsuki ignored the incredulous expression on her face. "Where else do you suggest then? We're isolated here. Just as they'd planned it."

As she began to walk back to the road Nao called after her. "Going back is suicide. What are we even going to do?"

Natsuki paused and took in a deep breath, resolve setting in. "We go to war."