Secret of the Ashikabi

Battle in the Forest


Minato worked tirelessly for the next few hours, his mind preoccupied with thinking about this whole Sekirei plan. What he had seen earlier on the way to work had shaken him a little. Not simply because it was dangerous, but because of the result of the whole ordeal. The look on that Ashikabi's face when Akitsu defeated his Sekirei stuck to Minato. He did not want to look or feel that way. He did not want to lose any of his Sekirei.

A bell sounded. That meant it was time for the lunch break. He retrieved the boxed lunch that Miya had prepared for him and walked over to a bench near the entrance to the construction site. Taking a seat, he began to unwrap and open the box. The smell of the food made his mouth water and he made a mental note to properly thank his new landlady for what looked to be a wonderful meal.

He was about to dig in, chopsticks in hand, when he noticed a presence on his right side. He slowly turned and found a man sitting right next to him who looked to be only a few years older. He had this wild look about him and had messy dark brown hair to match. He was staring intently at the boxed lunch and licked his lips every so often. Minato noticed that the man did not have any lunch with him at all and even though the situation was rather awkward, he felt compelled to offer the clearly hungry man some of his own lunch.

"Hey there," he greeted the man, who did not seem to hear him as he kept staring at Minato's food. His stomach audibly growled though. "I see you don't have any lunch..."

The man nodded vaguely.

"Do you want to have some of mine then?"

There was a look of surprise that came over the man's face. "Wait... are you serious?"

"Yeah, sure. There's plenty enough for the both of us." Minato grinned as the man seemed quite happy at that statement.

"Thank you so much man. I owe ya one!" He began to take a few pieces of food with his hands and put them into his mouth. His eyes widened as he tasted the food and he gave Minato an appraising look that went unnoticed by the younger man, who was content to eat away at his lunch. The man knew the specific taste of this food. Only one person in the area cooked like this.

"Seo! We brought you lunch!" called out a female voice. This was quickly followed by an audible gasp of disgust.

"HEY! SEO! WHAT THE HELL!" yelled another, nearly identical but more aggressive voice. "ARE YOU MOOCHING FOOD AGAIN?!"

"Come on, Seo! We already told you we were bringing you lunch!"

The man to Minato's right stood immediately and tried to placate the two girls who had walked in with a big plastic bag of what could only be the food they were talking about. They were glaring at him and he was trying hard to ease their anger.

"I didn't ask him! Come on, girls... he voluntarily gave me some of his food. I swear!" he tried to explain.

They were not having it though. "Yeah, right. Sure, Seo." The first girl to speak crossed her arms over her chest.

The second girl walked over to Minato and began to apologize. "I'm so sorry. Really sorry about our Seo here..."

Minato finally realized why the voices sounded so familiar. He looked up slowly and locked eyes with the girl who was apologizing to him. It was one of the twins who attacked him and Musubi a few days before. He stood up immediately as they both recognized each other with shock.

"Y-y-you!" Minato said. He then realized that he had dropped his lunch on the ground and looked down in horror at the turned over box and the spilled food. It was already all covered in dirt. "Aw damnit! My landlady made that special for me too..." he said in despair.

"Here," said the second girl, reaching a hand into the bag and pulling out some bread, "Since Seo here ate some of your food, it's only fair that you have a share of ours."

Minato accepted it graciously, though he still looked at them with suspicion. At that point, Seo grabbed both of the girls and smiled widely, showing surprisingly well-maintained teeth for his gruff look. He eyed Minato with interest.

"I see you've met my girls then," he remarked, "This is Hibiki," he grabbed a handful of the first girl's breast, "And this is Hikari," he did the same to the second girl. Both of them growled and protested at being handled like that. "They're my Sekireis."

"Wait, you're an Ashikabi?!"

"Yup!" his smile widened, "The name's Seo. Seo Kaoru. Pleased to meet you...?"

"Minato. Minato Sahashi," he introduced himself.

"Get your hands off us you freak!"

"Let go, Seo!"

"I'm warning you!" Hikari growled.

Seo did not pay any heed and continued to fondle them with a big smile plastered to his face, much to the discomfort of Minato who began to eat the bread as he stood there. A sudden bright flash accompanied by the sound of electricity crackling came from the group and Seo fell to the ground, his clothes smoking a little. Hibiki and Hikari had their noses up in the air and their hands on their hips as their Ashikabi slowly gathered himself off the ground.

"So I take it you're going after the Green Girl after work?" asked Seo once he had recovered, which surprisingly didn't take too long. Perhaps because this happened on a regular basis and he was getting used to it. Either that, or he was extremely tough.

Minato had a blank look on his face. "The Green Girl?"

"Oh, you don't have to play dumb with me, man! We're both Ashikabis here. I'm sure you got the message too," he said, amused. "Anyways, how's about we go and find her together after work? It's right down the block after all."

As he finished talking, the bell tolled again signalling that it was time for everyone to get back to work. Lunch was over. Before Minato could respond, Seo had already walked away.

"I'll see you after work, girls. And you too Minato!"

-xxxxxx-

Sure enough, after work Seo and the twins were waiting for Minato out by the entrance. As he walked out, Musubi and Akitsu appeared from wherever they had been hiding and were right up next to Minato. They clutched either side of him and looked warily over at the two other Sekirei who stood a few feet away.

"How was your first day, Minato?" asked Musubi, "You didn't over exert yourself, did you?"

Minato laughed a little, "It was fine, Musubi. And no, I didn't tire myself out too much. Thanks for asking."

Akitsu spoke up, "Are we supposed to fight them?" She looked at the two other girls coolly.

Minato shook his head, "No, no! They're... not here to fight us. At least that's what I think." He looked at Seo, who nodded at that statement.

"Don't worry, I'm not exactly a big fan of the Sekirei plan so I don't really like my girls fighting," he told them truthfully.

Musubi was not convinced that they did not have ulterior motives of some kind. "Well then why did you attack us in the alley?"

Hibiki responded quickly, "We were only targeting you, and that was because you hadn't emerged yet."

Hikari nodded, "Unemerged Sekirei are not only easier to defeat because their powers aren't fully realized, but it's also easier for us because there's no Ashikabi involved. That means less pain and heartache for everyone."

"Trust me when I tell you that I mean you no harm any longer," added Seo in a serious way. After a moment, he then grinned, "So these are your Sekirei eh?" he looked them over and nodded slowly, "I like 'em... yeah they look nice, and they've got really great racks too! You sure know how to pick em!"

That elicited another jolt of electricity from the twins, sending him to the ground once again.

Minato rubbed the back of his head, "But I didn't choose them... they chose me..." he said.

"Anyways, enough with all this talking. Let's get to finding the Green Girl!" exclaimed Seo excitedly, his fist pumping into the air, having already recovered from the little electric jolt.

"So what do we do? Where do we find her?" asked Minato.

Turning around, Seo pointed over to what at first glance looked to be some kind of a park nearby. "The Arboretum!"

"Easier said than done, it looks like," noted Minato as he looked over there.

In front of the gates to the Arboretum on this street was an armored MBI guard unit. They had two Armored Personnel Carriers and about two dozen soldiers stationed outside the gates. For what purpose, Minato was not sure. Their mission had to be more than simply guarding the Arboretum from vandals and troublemakers, since having that much firepower seemed like overkill to simply protect a few trees.

"Leave it to us," he grinned at Minato before turning to the twins, "Girls? If you would please."

Hibiki and Hikari looked at each other and gave a nod, "Right," they said in unison as they grabbed a hand from one another. With their free hands they pointed them towards the soldiers. Electric energy began to crackle all around them. Suddenly, a bolt of lightning flashed from their hands and drove straight into one of the APCs, causing it to explode. Another similar attack left the second APC a burning wreck. The remaining soldiers scattered, running scared.

The three of them began to walk towards the Arboretum, leaving Minato with his own Sekirei watching.

Seo noticed that they were not coming along and he turned around. "C'mon man! Are we doing this or not?"

Minato was getting this strange feeling that Seo was someone he did not really want to associate with. Still, he had his own Sekirei there to help him if he got in a bind. Plus he needed to know more about Sekireis, and talking it over with another Ashikabi seemed like the best way to do that right now. He reluctantly began to follow his newfound friend's lead, his girls quickly following his footsteps.

He only hoped that this little foray wouldn't come back to bite him in the ass later.

-xxxxxx-

They were lost. They had walked into the forest five minutes ago and now could not get their bearings. All the plants were growing out of control and obscured practically everything around them. Between the tall grass and the bushes, they were waist deep in undergrowth and partly in the dark thanks to the abundance of the trees and the resulting thickness of the tree cover.

"This is ridiculous!" yelled Seo in frustration as he pulled at some bushes that were in his way, ripping off thin branches by the handful.

All their clothes were torn up in several places and they had a few shallow cuts that showed how tough going it had been in the last five minutes. They finally managed to make it into a clearing, which was a blessing. They stayed there and rested for a few minutes. All around them was the dense forest. Minato remembered that they were mentioning in the news that there was alarming plant growth in the Arboretum.

"Is this the Green Girl's work?" Minato asked no one in particular as he looked around.

"Maybe," replied Musubi as she pulled some twigs out of her hair, "I wonder if her power has something to do with plants..."

Akitsu didn't really seem to care too much that there were leaves and some twigs in her own hair. She seemed content with simply being out of the undergrowth and being next to Minato. She stayed silent as usual.

Seo stretched and then scratched his chin. "So, got any ideas?" He looked at the twins, who shrugged, and then to Minato and his Sekirei.

Minato was about to say no when he noticed one of the trees nearby seemed to be glowing a faint greenish hue. He blinked several times, wondering if perhaps his eyes were paying tricks on him, but the glow remained. Curious, he walked over to the tree.

"Minato..?" Musubi watched him with concern as he approached the tree.

Seo seemed rather interested in what was going on while everyone else gave him a strange look.

Reaching out his hand, he touched the tree. As soon as his skin made contact, he stepped back wide-eyed as a glowing little girl emerged from the tree.

It's the same girl from my dreams!

She looked scared and seemed rather timid as she floated in the air. She looked at him with pleading eyes.

"Hey there," he finally spoke, "Are you the one they call the Green Girl?"

She nodded and then pointed off somewhere.

Minato looked at where she was pointing, then back to her. He gave a nod of understanding and then she gave him the smallest of smiles before reverting back to her scared look and then disappearing entirely. Minato's eyes took a few seconds to adjust to the lower level of light as the glowing had disappeared.

"Let me guess," said Seo first, "You saw a little girl? Yellow hair? Green eyes?"

Minato nodded, "You saw her too?"

"Nope!" Seo grinned.

Minato's eyes narrowed, "Are you serious? You didn't see her? She was right here!" He pointed to the space in front of him.

Seo looked to everyone else, "Anyone see anything?" Everyone shook their heads.

"Well I saw her, and she's very scared right now. We need to help her." He added in his thoughts, I need to help her.

"So you know where she is then?"

Minato pointed to where the little girl had directed him to earlier and he started moving with renewed vigor, plunging into the undergrowth.

"Minato! Wait for us!" Musubi cried as she chased after him, Akitsu right behind her.

Seo scratched his head for a moment and looked thoughtful. He had been skeptical about the message from the beginning, but it didn't hurt to check it out of course. Now he had changed his mind - the message was true. There was an unwinged Sekirei there in the Arboretum. He turned to his two Sekirei. "Come on girls. Let's help him out."

-xxxxxx-

Homura got into a fighting stance, his eyes narrowed as a flame ignited on his outstretched left palm.

"Mikogami isn't getting this one," he said firmly.

His opponent was a woman wielding a scythe. She laughed at him as her light brown hair moved in the wind, "Perhaps another time, Homura. I'm not here for you." She leaped into the air and over the tall fence of the Arboretum, landing softly on the other side.

Homura jumped up onto one of the pillars of the fencing and readied to attack, not wanting her to get any further in.

"Ah-ah! You can't use your powers here. You wouldn't want to burn down the forest and the Green Girl with it now, do you?" she said confidently before running off.

He growled but extinguished the flames surrounding his hand with some effort. Turning around, he crossed his arms across his chest. Nobody else was getting through. As for the Sekirei with the scythe, he'd make sure to head her off before she takes the last number to her master, if she manages to find her. He hoped that she would fail in her task.

-xxxxxx-

Minato ignored the pain, grunting as he pushed his way through the thick undergrowth. His clothes had torn even more from his efforts and more cuts appeared on his skin, but he did not care. The little girl looked like she was in trouble and she needed him. He would do whatever it took to help her.

Behind him his Sekirei were calling his name. Eventually, they tired of it and Musubi finally had a thought that she might be able to jump between tree trunks easier. Using her strength and speed she did just that and managed to catch up to Minato. Akitsu, not wanting to be bested in such a manner, decided to freeze all the plants in front of her and then it was a simple matter of shattering the frozen plants.

Eventually, they stumbled upon another clearing, this one bigger than the last. There seemed to be some kind of construct in the middle of it. A hut or cave of some kind made entirely out of tree bark. It was quite a sight to behold, though Minato quickly shook off his awe and started to walk towards the thing. A green glow permeated the area and appeared to be emanating from within the construct.

Musubi and Akitsu were right behind him, their eyes darting back and forth warily in case this was some sort of trap.

The way having been cleared by Akitsu with her freezing powers, Seo and the twins managed to catch up relatively quickly. Seo stopped as soon as he saw the construct and that Minato was heading for it. Hikari and Hibiki moved to follow them but were held back by their gruff-faced Ashikabi. They turned and looked at him with confused looks.

"I thought we were helping them?" asked Hikari, her sister nodding in agreement.

"This is as far as we go. The Green Girl's chosen him to be her Ashikabi after all, we shouldn't interfere."

The twins said nothing in reply to that statement as they watched the group ahead of them enter the wooden construct.

"Hello? Helloo? Are you in here?" Minato called out as he took his first steps into the wooden construct. It seemed to be a natural shelter made by directing and changing the way the trees used grew. Nowhere was there evidence that someone had cut the wood and put it together with nails, as any normal human would have done if this were a normal human building.

A small voice responded from the back of the construct, hidden in a little nook in the wood. "Who's there..?" Her voice was so timid if it weren't for the fact that it was very quiet in there Minato might not have heard her. She stepped out of where she was hiding, her eyes full of fear and her body crouched low. Upon seeing Minato, however, her eyes widened and a small smile grew on her face.

"Big brother...? Is that... is that you?"

He walked closer and smiled back, "Hi there. It's okay, I'm not going to hurt you... I'm here to help." He waved to Musubi and Akitsu, "We are here to help you. You're safe now, okay?"

"Big brother..." she repeated and when he got close enough she pounced on him, hugging him tightly. "Please, big brother... help me.." she whispered.

Musubi and Akitsu stiffened visibly at that, though they said nothing.

Stunned by her actions for a moment, Minato slowly returned the hug and stroked her hair a little. He realized that she was crying and he began to soothe her. "Shhh... shhh.. it's alright.. it's alright... I'm here for you. You're safe now..."

Meanwhile, outside Seo and the lightning twins waited for them to emerge. Noise from behind them made them turn around though, with Hikari and Hibiki tensing and readying to attack. Sure enough, a woman with a scythe was running towards them at an impressive speed, her light brown hair flowing behind her.

"Out of my way!" she yelled. Hibiki and Hikari stood their ground however, forcing the scythe-wielder to stop before them. "If it isn't Hikari and Hibiki..." she said under her breath.

Before any other words could be said, however, Seo intervened. "Girls, let her through." He seemed a little hesitant saying that, but stuck with his decision.

"What?!" reacted Hikari, "What the hell are you talking about?"

"Yeah, explain yourself Seo!" concurred Hibiki.

Seo sighed, crossing his arms, "This isn't our fight anymore so we shouldn't intervene. Besides, Minato has his Sekirei to protect him." Plus he wanted to see not only Minato's Sekirei in action but how Minato himself reacted to this situation too. He needed to find out what kind of person he really was.

The woman with the scythe at first was surprised as well, but then her surprised look turned into a smirking one. "You should listen to your worthless loser of an Ashikabi here and stand aside before I slice you up and make him have to mooch other people's Sekirei instead of only food."

That made Hikari visibly shake with anger while both her and Hibiki glared at the woman. "Shut up! You have no right to talk about our Seo like that! Just because your Ashikabi is rich, smart, and good-looking doesn't mean he's better than our Ashikabi, because he... he isn't!"

Hibiki held a hand up to her face, "Umm, Hikari... I think you're only reinforcing her point.."

"Enough of this," said the woman, "Move aside, now!" She lurched forward, her scythe threatening and causing the twins to part. With that opening she ran through them and headed for the wooden construct. There was no point in fighting them after all since their Ashikabi told them to stand down. Before she could make it to the construct she stopped in her tracks as she observed people exiting from it.

Minato held the little girl in his arms. She was apparently exhausted, no doubt because she had been scared and worried all this time by herself, and had passed out on him while she was crying. He eyed the girl with the scythe critically, because she definitely did not look friendly. On either side of him, Musubi and Akitsu tensed.

"Hello there," greeted the woman, "I'm glad that you've retrieved the Green Girl. Now hand her over and nobody gets hurt."

Minato shook his head, "Not a chance, lady." He clutched the little girl tighter in his arms.

"Fine. Then I'll have to take her by force!" she exclaimed as she leaped forward and brought her scythe to bear.

Minato could not move away in time and gritted his teeth as he readied himself to take the blow, but then Musubi jumped in front of him and easily stopped the blade from cutting him down. Her hands were up and were firmly holding the blade on either side. She had a very serious expression on her face.

Surprised at having her attack stopped in such a manner, the woman complained, "Hey! Let my scythe go this instant!"

Musubi shook her head. "This thing is sharp and very dangerous. You could hurt someone with it!" She proceeded to break off the piece she was holding with ease, the scythe's blade essentially being split in two. Tossing aside the broken piece of the blade, she got into a fighting stance with her red gloved fists up. Her anticipation for the battle filled her with energy.

The woman stared in horror at her broken scythe, her mouth agape. A few seconds later she growled, her eyes squinting angrily. "Y-y-you... you... b-broke my... death scythe.." she stammered in disbelief. She took a few moments to observe the damage before turning back to Musubi. Then she twirled her scythe in her hands and readied an attack, "You're going to pay for that!"

As this was happening, Akitsu had pulled Minato and the girl to the side so as to get out of the way. She had told Minato that they were too close and would be in danger. Now that they were at a safer distance, they watched, with Akitsu prepared to defend Minato should Musubi fail and should the woman decide to ignore Musubi and attack her Ashikabi as she had nearly done earlier.

Musubi dodged the slashing scythe and jumped to the side, rolling in midair and sending a kick into the woman's chest that forced her backwards a few steps. The woman growled and spinning her scythe around she brought it down, the force of the movement causing a shockwave that hurtled towards Musubi. She dodged it and running forward she moved to attack again.

This time, the woman avoided that attack and catapulted herself into the air. Her scythe was twirling again and she brought it down once more in different angles, causing multiple shockwaves through the air. She grinned as Musubi was unable to avoid all of them, forcing her to tumble backwards and have parts of her clothes rip off.

Landing on the ground, she grinned. "This is too easy!" she boasted as she let loose with another attack.

Musubi, still recovering from getting hit a moment ago was flung backwards several feet with more of her clothing tearing off. Her large breasts were already exposed and only tatters of her skirt remained, her panties at least keeping her privates covered. Though at the rate things were going, it seemed like that would not last very long.

Minato took a step forward, eyes full of concern and dread, but Akitsu held him back. He did not force himself forward, too engrossed and afraid as he was watching the fight unfold. Things were not looking good. Not good at all.

"Is that all you've got?" asked the scythe-wielder, laughing as she watched Musubi struggle to get up as she was clearly hurt. "You look almost as weak as your dumb, pathetic little Ashikabi over there." She glanced over at Minato.

Musubi covered her exposed breasts with one arm and held up her other in a fighting stance. Her eyes were still full of determination. "You take that back this instant! Minato is an amazing person and a wonderful Ashikabi!"

The woman laughed, "Make me take it back, then!" She readied her scythe.

Musubi ran forward, readying to strike, but before she could even get close she was again knocked back by a shockwave of air that ripped the rest of her clothes off. The only piece remaining on her body was her panties as she skidded across the ground. She groaned as she moved to get up.

Seo's eyes were wider than normal as he took in the sight of the practically naked Musubi. He was grinning stupidly as he stared at her. "Damn! Those must be the greatest set of boobs I've ever seen!"

Hikari had electricity crackling from her hands as Hibiki shook her head and called Seo a pervert. A shock was delivered to their Ashikabi a moment later.

"Looks like I missed something," said the woman in a condescending tone, "No matter. I'll finish you right here, right now!" She yelled as she brought her scythe to bear once more.

Musubi meanwhile was on her knees on the ground, her head low. Her first true battle and she was losing miserably. Where had she gone wrong? Why was she so weak? She could not believe it. This was it. This was the end of the line for her. She was going to lose.

Snap out of it! a voice yelled at her from within. You CAN'T lose. Do you want to be separated from Minato? No? Then get up and show her your strength! Defeat her!

"Right," she said softly. "I won't lose." Her eyes widened as she snapped her head up. A giant shockwave was heading for her at that moment. The finishing blow.

An explosion erupted in the clearing, throwing dirt and debris up in the air as the massive shockwave hit the ground where Musubi had been kneeling. There was a thick dirt cloud that obscured everyone's vision, so Musubi was out of sight. The woman with the scythe landed softly on her two feet after having gone airborne again to launch her final attack. She smirked triumphantly as she eyed the pillar of dirt and debris that went up from the ground where her opponent had been.

Minato fell to his knees, the little girl still in his arms though only barely as his grip loosened. There were tears in his eyes as shock came over him. No, no... no... this can't be happening... Musubi...


Author's Notes: Thanks for being patient! Here's some more story for ya. :)

The Wandering Bard