Miya stormed through the corridor and into the antechamber. It was rare for her to display any emotion. Usually her face was a blank canvas; her voice and her words were perpetually stoic. Contrary to rumor number one could feel emotions, she simply preferred not to make a public display of them.
Today though was an obvious exception.
There was a ferocious scowl on her face and as she swept past people were quick to get out of her way and lower their eyes. In the antechamber outside Minaka's office the secretaries took one look at her and did not dare to so much as call out for her to stop.
A short distance behind Miya three other members of the disciplinary squad followed. Unlike their leader they appeared to be calm enough. If anything they looked to be confused as to what was going on. Miya had ordered them to come with her and so they had.
She burst through the doors to Minaka's private office. "What is the meaning of this?" She shouted.
Inside the office Minaka was in his usual white suit with ostentatious cape. He was standing and had a wide smile. "Ah, number one, I see you got my message."
Standing next to him was Karasuba. She had a sword belted on but was not in her uniform. Instead she was dressed in a dark grey top with a short black skirt. The sudden outburst had brought forth one of her playful little grins. "Yara, yara, did you come to see me off? I am touched Miya I never knew you cared."
"Get back in your uniform and return to duty." Miya growled. "You are a member of this squad and I don't intend to let you desert! I didn't let the others abandon our master and I won't allow you to either."
"Is that what this is about?" Mutsu asked as he quickly shut the doors. "Karasuba wants out?"
"I never thought you'd try and desert." Kazehana said. "Welcome to the club. We should drink to it."
"Number four will not be permitted to abandon her duty." Miya said flatly. "No matter what that requires." She placed a hand on the hilt of her sword.
Karasuba put a hand on hers as well and turned to face Miya while opening her stance up. "Please don't tease me; I'm starting to get very excited."
"Now, now," Minaka said shaking a finger at both of them. "Let's not have any of that here. I want to see just how number four does in the tournament."
"Wait!" Matsu said in surprise. "Are you actually okay with Karasuba joining the other sekirei?"
"Don't be ridiculous!" Miya snapped. "She is a part of the Disciplinary Squad."
"Not anymore," Karasuba replied. "I have an ashikabi now and I've decided to join this little game."
"You have an ashikabi?" Matsu sounded excited. "Have you performed any experiments with him yet?"
Kazehana brought her hands together over her chest. "So you actually found love? I am so happy for you."
Karasuba gave a startled laugh. "Love? Don't be stupid. There's no way I could love a weakling human. Though I do admit he seems to have more guts and brains than most of his useless kind."
"Why would you take an ashikabi if it wasn't for love?" Kazehana asked.
"For the sake of claiming the Grand Prize of course." Her mocking eyes were directed towards Miya. "I mean to topple you from the God's seat Miya and make the streets run with blood." Just the thought of it was making her start to tremble with excitement.
"The God's seat could never belong to someone who has no sense of honor."
"It belongs to whoever can get the jinki. With those I can get rid of you and anyone else I like." An amused glance took in her other teammates. "If I win this silly contest I'll have the power to slaughter whoever I please."
"If you are serious about that I will kill you here and now." In a flash Miya drew out her sword.
Karasuba did the same and both of them were ready to strike.
"This is wonderful!" Minaka said practically dancing about. "When number four came to me I knew it was the will of the gods! She will play the part of the monster who wants to bring on the end of all things! How epic! How perfect! This must be what the gods had in mind all along. A grand battle to decide the fate of the world! Isn't it just marvelous?"
"You cannot possibly be happy about the prospect of someone like Karasuba getting her hands on the jinki." Mutsu said. "With all eight she really could kill anyone she wants, human as well as sekirei."
"I know!" Minaka said eagerly. "That will give the tournament apocalyptic meaning! The world will be reborn or else it will end. I have to admit I'm excited to see how it plays out myself."
Mutsu looked over at Matsu and twirled a finger by the side of his head.
"Put away your swords both of you," Minaka ordered. "It would ruin things if you killed each other now."
"Yara, yara, that's fine, I can wait." Karasuba sheathed her blade. "Aren't you going to obey your master Miya? That is what you do best after all."
Though clearly not pleased Miya did put away her sword. "Master how can you allow this?"
"Everything is for the sake of the tournament." Minaka said happily. "From the moment I discovered the ship and the sekirei it was obvious I was being directed by the gods. The S Tournament will mark a renewal of the world or its end, whichever the gods decide."
"You see Miya? It's not my fault at all." Karasuba spread her hands. "Blame the gods."
"Master," Miya said. "Karasuba is a member of the Disciplinary Squad. How can you allow her to abandon us just as the real work is about to start?"
"The squad's most important work was defending Kamakura Island in order to allow this day to take place. I am sure that my private army can manage to enforce order during the Tournament. If members of the squad want to join in I will allow it. After all, we need heroes as well as monsters."
"Wait!" Matsu chirped. "Are you saying the rest of us can also just leave if we want?"
"No!" Miya said sharply.
"Yes," Minaka said overruling her.
"Mutsu and I are leaving then!" Matsu shouted as she grabbed onto Mutsu's arm.
"What about your duty?" Miya demanded.
"Screw duty!" Matsu replied.
Miya growled and put her hand back on her sword.
"Eek!" Matsu wisely ducked behind Mutsu.
Facing Miya Mutsu gave a weary sigh. "If it really is an option I guess the two of us will go."
"How can you say that?" Miya demanded. "Doesn't your duty mean anything to you?"
"To be honest Miya, no." Mutsu answered. "I mean back when we were fighting to save the others from attack, yes it did have meaning. But that was a long time ago. What meaning does it have now when all we do is follow all your petty rules for the sake of some insane game? None of us volunteered for this Miya. You've been forcing us to follow you all this time. Really, what sort of loyalty are you expecting?"
Mutsu peeked out from behind her boyfriend's back. "You won't let us go out, you won't let us have fun, hell you won't even let us have sex! There are prisoners who have more freedom than we do!"
"Sacrifices have to be made for the sake of the greater good." Miya argued.
"What greater good?" Mutsu asked shaking his head. "Miya, we have become nothing but the mindless servants of MBI and its petty dictator." He looked over at Minaka. "No offense."
"None taken." Minaka said. "You should hear some of the things Takami calls me."
"My point is," Mutsu continued. "You keep speaking of honor and duty but the entire time you've denied us a choice. If we are being given a choice now we choose to leave. We've already made enough sacrifices, what we want is freedom."
"That's wonderful," Minaka applauded. "Just talk to one of my secretaries and we will register you and provide you some MBI debit cards as well as a pair of diaries."
Miya whirled about. "Are you really going to allow this to happen?"
Minaka nodded. "Let them all fight and let the gods choose who they will."
"What about you number three?" Miya asked. "Are you going to abandon everything as well?"
For just a heartbeat Kazehana glanced at Minaka before giving a heartfelt sigh. "If I agreed to stay would you at least let me go out and have some drinks and some fun when I'm off duty?"
"Of course not," Miya said flatly.
"Then yeah, I guess I'll leave too. I'm not really interested in fighting or winning a prize. I just want to be able to drink a little when I feel like it and maybe explore this city and see what there is to find here."
"Don't you understand what you are doing?" Miya asked the three of them. "You are shattering the squad! Is that what you want?"
"If it means I get to have sex with Mutsu without being scared of being caught then yes!" Matsu replied loudly while staying behind her boyfriend.
"Yara, yara you just don't get it do you Miya?" Karasuba spoke with deep satisfaction. "We have not been one unit for a long time now. We have been five separate pieces for a while now. We only lasted this long because you didn't give the others a choice and because I was satisfied with it. No one else cares anymore about honor or duty or any of it."
To her bitter disappointment Miya saw the others nod their heads.
"I suppose I just expected more from all of you."
"Would you also like to join the game?" Minaka asked. "We can disband the squad and let the MBI security forces handle things from here on out."
"No," Miya said sharply. "Even if the others abandon their duty I never will."
Karasuba chuckled. "How does it feel to be the very last samurai?"
Miya straightened her back and squared her shoulders. "It feels like an honor, not that you would understand it."
The two of them stared each other down.
"I am so going to enjoy killing you when the time comes." Karasuba said.
"I feel the same; at least we agree on that much I suppose." She turned around and walked to the doors. Matsu made sure to keep Mutsu between them at all times. Opening the doors Miya looked back at all of them. "So far as I am concerned you are all traitors. Even if our master does permit your actions know this; if the situation arises I will not hesitate to kill any of you."
With that she strode away.
Karasuba gave a little shiver. "And you think I'm the monster."